Readings — From the February 2016 issue

Slow Feud

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From messages between Shawn Musgrave, a reporter for MuckRock.com, and Kimberly Davis, a clerk in Rowan County, Kentucky, who defied an August 2015 court order to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. This exchange regards open-records requests that Musgrave filed on September 1 and October 2, 2015. Davis met Pope Francis in late September, in Washington, D.C.

To Whom It May Concern:

Pursuant to Kentucky Open Records Act, I hereby request the following records:

All emails sent to or by Rowan County Clerk Kimberly Davis from August 1, 2015, to the date this request is processed.

I would be grateful if you would inform me of the total charges in advance. I would prefer the request filled electronically, by email attachment if available or CD-ROM if not.

Sincerely,

Shawn Musgrave

 

Hello,

There are well over 6,000 emails received/sent during the time period you ask for. There will be considerable time and paper consumed in the processing of your request. I am estimating approximately forty hours of labor at $12.50 per hour to retrieve and print all emails, along with a fee of $0.10 per copy and the open-records $3 fee, plus postage for mail (estimated $100). This would make the approximate amount due $1,203. Once that amount is received, your request can begin to be processed.

Respectfully,

Kim Davis

 

Hello —

Is it possible to avoid copying time and fees by sending electronic copies of the emails?

Best,

Shawn

 

Dear Sir,

I have conveyed what was needed to process your request. Once you have sent the fees as indicated, your request will be processed.

 

Hello —

Please clarify why you are unable to provide electronic copies of electronic communications. The Kentucky public-records statute requires provision of documents electronically if a given agency is able.

Respectfully,

Shawn

 

Dear Mr. Musgrave,

I was trying to be fair, while I do retain the right, through the Kentucky Open Records Law, to refuse altogether, as it is an “overly burdensome request.”

Respectfully,

Kim Davis

 

Ms. Davis —

I may file a complaint with the state attorney general for excessive fees, as well as effective denial of my request by virtue of characterizing it as “overly burdensome.”

The statute indicates that I may request documents in the format in which they are stored. Does your agency store official emails in hard copy?

Respectfully,

Shawn Musgrave

 

Mr. Musgrave,

If you feel reviewing and printing well over 6,000 emails is not a burdensome task, I am sorry. I will be happy to complete your request for the fees discussed. I really don’t know how much more you expect from me.

Respectfully,

Kim Davis

 

Ms. Davis —

You have not answered the simple question of how your emails are stored.

I am willing to reduce the scope of the request so that your office has fewer emails to review. But more than half of your cost estimate is for printing and shipping hard copies.

Respectfully,

Shawn Musgrave

 

Mr. Musgrave,

Your offer to reduce the scope of your original request is greatly appreciated.

Naturally, we cannot proceed until we receive your new request.

Kim Davis

 

To Whom It May Concern:

Pursuant to Kentucky Open Records Act, I hereby request the following records:

All emails sent to or by Rowan County Clerk Kimberly Davis from September 1 to the date this request is processed that contain any of the following keywords (please conduct a separate search for each): “Pope,” “Francis,” “Vatican,” “embassy,” “Washington, D.C.”

I would prefer the request filled electronically, by email attachment if available or CD-ROM if not.

Sincerely,

Shawn Musgrave

 

Mr. Musgrave,

I have two emails, if you like I will fax those to you. Please advise.

Thank you,

Kim Davis

 

Ms. Davis —

Yes, please send me the two emails that you indicate — as well as any other emails that contain the indicated keywords.

Please do not print them out and fax them to me.

Respectfully,

Shawn Musgrave

 

Shawn,

I already have them printed and am ready to fax, sorry. I am old-school on this email stuff. Please supply me with a fax number.

Kim

 

Hi Kim —

Please send all emails that fit my request in their original, electronic format.

Respectfully,

Shawn Musgrave

 

Ms. Davis —

As you’ve stopped replying to emails regarding my two open requests — both of which you initially acknowledged by email — I am reaching out by fax.

My preference is that you send these documents by email using the address that you already have. Any necessary correspondence regarding my requests would also be much, much easier to conduct via email than via fax or other means.

Respectfully,

Shawn Musgrave

 

Mr. Musgrave,

Your request has been fulfilled and put in the mail.

Thank you,

Kim Davis

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