A state judge has fined the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services $756,000 because it "willfully circumvented" open-records law by not fully releasing records of child abuse fatalities and near deaths.
Franklin Circuit Judge Phillip Shepherd ruled on Monday that the cabinet made a "mockery" of the Open Records Act by maintaining that documents remain confidential.
Shepherd ordered the cabinet to pay the plaintiff's attorney fees and costs to be decided.
The Courier-Journal and the Lexington Herald-Leader have been battling to obtain the cabinet records of cases in which children died or nearly died from abuse or neglect.
The cabinet turned over more than 20,000 documents, but cut such things as the names of perpetrators, even if they were convicted in open court or identified in police news releases.