Kentucky permits access to public employee evaluations

The Kentucky Court of Appeals overturned a circuit court ruling barring release of public employee job evaluations. The Appeals Court stated that public interest outweighs privacy in matters of a public agency, particularly when an employee has committed a crime. Read the story.

RENDERED: MARCH 31, 2006; 10:00 A.M.
TO BE PUBLISHED
Commonwealth Of Kentucky
Court of Appeals
NO. 2004-CA-002270-MR
CAPE PUBLICATIONS
D/B/A THE COURIER-JOURNAL APPELLANT
APPEAL FROM JEFFERSON CIRCUIT COURT
v. HONORABLE LISABETH HUGHES ABRAMSON, JUDGE
ACTION NO. 02-CI-008245
CITY OF LOUISVILLE APPELLEE
OPINION
REVERSING AND REMANDING
** ** ** ** **
BEFORE: KNOPF AND TACKETT, JUDGES; ROSENBLUM, SENIOR JUDGE.1
TACKETT, JUDGE: Cape Publications, d/b/a the Courier-Journal, appeals from the order of the Jefferson Circuit Court denying access to performance evaluations of employees of the Louisville and Jefferson County Parks Department who had been accused of criminal wrongdoing in the course of their duties. The Courier-Journal sought access to the records under the Open Records Act, Senior Judge Paul W. Rosenblum sitting as Special Judge by assignment of the Chief Justice pursuant to Section 110(5)(b) of the Kentucky Constitution and KRS 21.580.
Kentucky Revised Statute (KRS) 61.870 et seq. The circuit court held that even though the records are public records within the
meaning of the statute, they are exempt from disclosure under the privacy exemptions found in KRS 61.878(l)(a). The Courier-Journal argues on appeal that the public’s interest in the doings of a public agency outweighs the privacy interest of
particular employees in non-disclosure of their performance evaluations, particularly when the employee has committed a criminal act. We reverse the circuit court and order that the Courier-Journal receive redacted versions of the evaluations, with all personal information removed.

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