In a victory for government accountability and transparency, a judge has ruled that the University of Louisville must release documents to the public related to its self-imposed postseason basketball ban.
The ACLU of Kentucky represented blogger Dr. Peter Hasselbacher in the matter. Dr. Hasselbacher attempted to obtain the records and was denied by U of L back in 2016. Dr. Hasselbacher appealed to the Attorney General, who found U of L violated Kentucky’s open records law. The University then filed a lawsuit asking for a judge to overturn the Attorney General’s opinion, naming Dr. Hasselbacher as a defendant in the lawsuit because he requested the records.
Jefferson Circuit Judge Barry Willett ruled U of L “willfully withheld” the documents that Dr. Hasselbacher requested in a “deliberate attempt to conceal information that it considers to be embarrassing and damaging to its reputation,” noting that “the University has never articulated a plausible legal basis for denying Dr. Hasselbacher access to those records.”
“Kentucky’s open records law is designed to give the public access to important records,” said ACLU-KY attorney Heather Gatnarek. “By refusing to provide adequate responses to open records requests and delaying court proceedings U of L officials are blocking access and making it extremely difficult for people to obtain public records. The court’s ruling is a strong message that Kentucky’s open records law cannot be subverted in this way.”
“I’m pleased with the judge’s ruling and thankful to the ACLU of Kentucky for their representation,” said Dr. Hasselbacher. “Our Commonwealth’s open records law remains strong when government agencies have to pay when they illegally deny access to information that rightfully belongs to the public.”
The court ordered U of L to release the records and pay Dr. Hasselbacher’s attorneys fees.