The Kentucky Court of Appeals has denied a request from the Cabinet for Health and Family Services that would further prevent the release of certain child abuse records. Circuit Court Judge Phillip Shepherd ordered the Cabinet to release nearly 180 case documents earlier this year. The Cabinet released some documents but redacted information that could be useful in determining whether the agency is operating appropriately.
Now, an appellate court has denied the Cabinet's request for stay on Shepherd's orders while the appeals process works itself out.
"What they're trying to do is to avoid producing anything for the duration of the appeal," said plaintiff attorney Jon Fleischaker.
That appeals process could potentially take several more years, according to Fleischaker.
Three newspapers, including the Courier-Journal and the Lexington Herald-Leader, are seeking the remaining documents, but Fleischaker said the Cabinet continues to not follow court orders.
“And obviously, so far, they’ve been successful. It’s now July and they’ve produced some things but only what they want to produce, not what the court has ordered them to produce," he said.
Shepherd's orders allowed the Cabinet to redact certain information such as children's names, and certain individuals who report the crime.
Cabinet officials could decide to request the State Supreme Court hear the case. Officials say they’re currently reviewing the order.