Attorney General vows appeal of judge’s decision in Kernel records case


Attorney General Andy Beshear

Rick Childress

Kentucky Attorney General Andy Beshear announced Wednesday that he will appeal a recent decision of a Fayette Circuit Court judge in a case involving the Kernel.

The court found that documents pertaining to a sexual assault investigation conducted by UK fell under the protection of a federal student privacy law and the attorney general’s office would not be allowed to review the documents for public release, according to a Lexington Herald-Leader story.

UK spokesman Jay Blanton said the university’s focus is on victim privacy in sexual assault investigations.

“We take very seriously our legal and moral obligation to protect the privacy of our students in general and survivors of violence in particular; and we will continue to do so,” Blanton said in the same Herald-Leader report.

After the decision, Beshear vowed to appeal. Wednesday’s notice is the attorney general’s official start to the appeal process.

“[T]he very existence and effectiveness of Kentucky’s Open Records Law is in jeopardy,” Beshear said in a recent interview with the Kernel. “[UK]’s approach creates a silver bullet where any state agency that doesn’t want to provide a document can simply claim a Federal privacy law.”

Beshear said his office is worried that if state agencies can hide documents by claiming federal privacy laws, then his office will not be able to hold those agencies accountable in important investigations like sexual assault.

The Court of Appeal’s decision should be heard in the coming months.