The state Cabinet for Health and Family Services has been given 90 days to release thousands of pages pertaining to about 180 cases of children who died or were badly injured from abuse or neglect. The order was issued Thursday by Franklin Circuit Judge Phillip Shepherd, who called the cabinet's reluctance to comply with state open records laws an "utter failure," reports Deborah Yetter of The Courier-Journal.
The ruling is the latest in the cabinet's fight with the Louisville newspaper and the Lexington Herald-Leader. Shepherd's ruling replaces a previous order that told the cabinet to release 1,000 pages a week, which it started doing Jan. 27. The documents released so far — which have been "heavily redacted" at the cabinet's discretion and against Shepherd's ruling — represent 15 cases.
The cabinet argued it should not be obligated to release the records since it is appealing Shepherd's decision, but the judge rejected that argument. He also said the cabinet had to list reasons for why it was redacting some information "and be prepared to defend them in court after releasing the files," Yetter reports. (Read more)