County clerk found in violation of Open Records Act

By: Katie Roach Email
By: Katie Roach Email

A county clerk is found in violation of the Open Records Act because she denied an applicants request to make his own copies of records.

Whitley County Clerk Kay Schwartz says everyone has to pay for the copies in her office, but the Attorney General says she cannot force someone to pay if they have their own imaging equipment.

Records in Whitley County are open to everyone, but if you want to make a copy it's 50 cents per page.

But, when Larry Bailey tried to use a hand held scanner to make his own copies, the Whitley County Clerk's office told him he was not allowed.

"When this issue began, I called all of my surrounding counties and none of them allow the use of handheld scanners," said Schwartz.

In the Attorney General's ruling, it says the clerk had no proof that the condition of the records would be damaged by the hand held scanner.

Larry Bailey says in his appeal that the policy forces everyone to pay fees for the maintenance and supplies of her office even if those services are not needed imposing undue financial burdens on open records requestors.

"I totally disagree with it, and I have had a lot of clerks from across the state of Kentucky call me and say they agree with my decision," said Schwartz.

Schwartz says any person who wants a copy of a record must pay 50 cents per page, and that's just to help with the cost of printing and maintaining the records.

The Attorney General's Office says people should not have to pay if they are not using the copying services, and people should be allowed to use their own re-imaging equipment as long as it does not damage the records.

"The law was put into place before handheld scanners or digital cameras. It does not even address the issue," said Schwartz.

She says the director of the Kentucky County clerks association is in the process of bringing the issue before Kentucky's legislature.

Schwartz says she is also in the process of appealing the decision.

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