Judge to rule individually on documents in EKU arts center case

rcopley@herald-leader.comApril 11, 2013 

Debra Hoskins, pictured in January 2011, was until last summer executive director of the EKU Center for the Arts.

TIM WEBB Buy Photo

RICHMOND — Madison County Circuit Judge William G. Clouse Jr. will hear arguments on individual documents in the Herald-Leader's open-records case against Eastern Kentucky University and Debra Hoskins, former director of the EKU Center for the Arts.

The newspaper is seeking documents regarding Hoskins' departure from the arts center in June. The university initially attempted to fire Hoskins until the center's community operations board asserted that only it had the authority to terminate Hoskins' employment. She resigned a week later.

The Herald-Leader filed an open-records request seeking documents relating to Hoskins' tenure at the center. The university released several records last summer, primarily financial documents, but it held back many other documents, citing a confidentiality agreement with Hoskins.

In October, the state attorney general's office issued an opinion stating that open-records laws supersede confidentiality agreements. After initially agreeing to release the documents, EKU reversed course, saying it was obliged to honor the agreement until all legal remedies had been exhausted.

Last month, with Hoskins' agreement, several hundred pages of documents were released. The documents revealed widespread issues with Hoskins' management of the center, including mishandling of customers' credit card information and misuse of information from her former employer, Centre College's Norton Center for the Arts in Danville. Hoskins disputed many of the documents' claims.

There are about 24 documents or categories of documents that remain in dispute. At a hearing Thursday morning, Hoskins' and EKU's attorneys reasserted their contention that releasing the remaining documents would raise privacy issues, and Hoskins' attorney Ephraim Helton said they would be "voyeuristic."

Clouse said it would expedite things for him and the attorneys to go through the documents one by one so he could rule on them individually. That hearing will be Tuesday in Madison Circuit Court.

Rich Copley: (859) 231-3217. Twitter: @copiousnotes.

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