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The Murray State News

Murray State responds to WPSD’s motion

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Murray State and WPSD reach an agreement over records lawsuit

UPDATE: Perry Boxx, news director at WPSD Local 6, released a statement about Murray State’s response to the monetary penalties.

I think it’s very important to fully understand why we believe substantial penalties need to be imposed. The people responsible for this abuse of power are employed by the people of the Commonwealth. The documents they secreted away are the property of the people of the Commonwealth. Let’s all remember that. But someone hired them and is responsible, ultimately, for their actions. In this case, that someone, at least in terms of Bob Jackson, is the Board of Regents. The message to be sent is to them and to every public official contemplating willful violation of the laws of the Commonwealth that there are serious consequences. The Attorney General’s office said Jackson and his people violated the law. Now a veteran Circuit Judge said they not only violated the law they did it willfully. The judge used the word ‘scheme’ in his ruling.” 

The statement continues: “If this Board of Regents, political appointees all, chooses to continue to ignore the actions of this president and his administration then we are justified in saying each and every member is complicit. Clearly, the Regents seem determined to turn a blind eye. The Chairman of the Board, Leon Owens, issued a statement shortly after the judges ruling that not only arrogantly & disrespectfully brushed off Judge Atkins ruling, but directly contradicted the facts and Judge Atkins.  Said Owens, ‘The University has taken no actions in willful disregard of the law with respect to WPSD’s request.’ That’s not what the judge said. They don’t seem to be taking Judge Atkins very seriously.”

The University has responded to WPSD Local 6’s motion for monetary penalties after the Court found Murray State defiant of the Open Records Act.

University administration and WKMS clashed over an investigation into state lawmakers in 2022. WPSD submitted an Open Records request for documentation, such as video footage and emails, regarding said lawmakers and the University was hesitant to provide documentation. 

The University provided documentation to the news station but several areas were redacted. The Paducah news station then filed a lawsuit against the University for openly violating the Open Records Act. Judge John Atkins ruled in favor of WPSD and Murray State was required to provide unredacted documentation to the news station within 10 days following the ruling. 

Murray State filed the motion that the Court should reject WPSD’s request for over $40,000 in attorney’s fees and over $300,000 statutory penalties because it is an “egregious request” and “disproportionate to its claims.”

“Thus, the Court should reject WPSD’s contention that (Murray State) should be sanctioned for every single record it redacted, as such a penalty would be far in excess of the arguments and findings in this case,” the filing said. “??(Murray State) should not be penalized for the three months during which dispositive briefing could have been—but was not yet—underway through no fault of (Murray State). The protracted duration of this litigation is not the fault of (Murray State), and the Court should not penalize (Murray State) as a result.” 

In the filing, the University disputed WPSD’s request for monetary relief because University “didn’t willfully violate the Open Records Act” and WPSD’s request for monetary compensation is “gluttonous.” 

If the Court decides to rule in favor of WPSD’s compensation, Murray State requests that the Court review the costs in depth and significantly decrease the requested amount. 

The next hearing is March 28. 

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About the Contributor
Bri Hunter
Bri Hunter, Chief Copy Editor
Bri Hunter is the Chief Copy Editor at The News. Hunter is pursuing her Bachelor’s degree in journalism with a minor in media production. She also is a service member in the Kentucky Army National Guard. Outside of work and college, Hunter enjoys weight lifting, riding motorcycles, camping and reading a good book while drinking a solid cup of coffee.

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