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Court Records Not Open Records

Update: The Attorney General’s decision is unlikely to affect the openness of court records.

The Kentucky attorney general’s office says court records are not subject to the state’s Open Records Act.

A Paducah case is at the heart of the opinion. Anton Thomas sought any and all records, statements and documents pertaining to a September 2009 McCracken County District Court hearing.

He was provided a copy of the hearing by the district court clerk, but when denied further documentation, Thomas appealed under the Kentucky Open Records Act.

But an attorney general’s opinion says documents in the custody of district and circuit court clerks are properly characterized as court records, and not subject to the Open Records Act.

The opinion says “disputes relating to access to court records, must be resolved by the courts.”  Any party aggrieved by the opinion may appeal to circuit court.

By Tony McVeigh

Veteran broadcast journalist Tony McVeigh has been covering Kentucky politics since 1986, reporting for Clear Channel Communications before joining Kentucky Public Radio in 2004.

His stories are aired by seven KPR affiliates, whose signals blanket the Commonwealth and parts of surrounding states.

McVeigh began his broadcasting career at WRFC in Athens, Georgia, while earning a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism from the University of Georgia.

He has extensive anchor/reporter experience, including stints with South Carolina Network and Georgia Radio News Service in Atlanta.

In 2007 and 2008, McVeigh was named Best Radio Reporter in the Kentucky Associated Press Awards. He also picked up consecutive AP Awards for Best Political Coverage. McVeigh won four Kentucky AP Awards in 2009, six in 2010 - including Best Political Coverage and Best Hard News Feature - and three in 2011.

His coverage of the 2007 Kentucky governor's race topped the Political Reporting category of the Society of Professional Journalists Green Eyeshade Awards of 2008. In 2009, McVeigh placed second in Courts and Law Reporting in the Atlanta-based competition for journalists in 11 Southern states.

McVeigh is also the proud recipient of an Individual Liberty Award from the Kentucky Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers.

The Brunswick, Georgia, native is a die-hard UGA football fan who enjoys photography, astronomy, live music, hiking Kentucky's Red River Gorge and exploring the state's beautiful back roads. McVeigh and his big, fat, black cat Simon, reside in Frankfort, KY.