A judge has ordered Kentucky’s Cabinet for Health and Family Services to explain why it refuses to release certain information in child death and near death records, which has been a long-fought battle between the Cabinet and the media.
Since 2011 the Courier Journal and the Lexington Herald Leader have been in court with the Cabinet over two years worth of child abuse records.
“From the beginning they have felt the public was not entitled to anything. They continue to lose that fight,” says attorney Jon Fleischaker who represents the media in the case.
The Cabinet believes certain information should remain confidential. Last month the Kentucky Supreme Court was evenly divided on the issue, which means the lower court’s ruling ordering the release of the records stands.
Circuit Court Judge Phillip Shepherd told the Cabinet this week it now has 30 days to explain its redaction, which he says should have already been done by now.
“If they almost do it, if they come close to doing it, it’ll be okay. If they come back in 30 days and say gee-whiz we just haven’t had a chance to get this thing done, I think there will be some serious trouble,” Fleischaker says.
The Cabinet’s general counsel says the agency will make every effort to comply with the June 10 deadline.