Kyle v. Perrilloux was a case before the Louisiana First Circuit Court of Appeal in 2003 concerning open records requests.
This court determined that the fact that documents originated in a different department did not affect whether or not the current public agency had custody and control of those documents.
- On February 27, 2002 the state legislative auditor, Daniel Kyle, conducted an investigation into the expenditures of the clerk of court, John Dahmer of Tangipahoa Parish. The results of the investigation were delivered to the district attorney, Scott Perrilloux, for the Parish who, based on those results, decided to open a criminal investigation into the clerk.
- On March 12, 2002 the Perrilloux issued a subpoena for all the working documents and investigation materials involved in the investigation conducted by Kyle.
- On March 19, 2002, Kyle delivered the requested documents to Perrilloux. Perrilloux decided not to pursue the case after the grand jury did not endorse an indictment.
- On June 24, 2002, Dahmer submitted a public records request under the Louisiana Public Records Act to Perrilloux for all documents relating to the district attorney's investigation and the grand jury trial. The Ponchatoula Times echoed the request, submitting their own for the same information on June 27.
- Perrilloux notified Kyle that he planned on releasing the requested documents, including the working papers and product of Kyle's investigation.
- On June 28, Kyle filed a suit in district court, seeking to prevent the release of the documents relating to his investigation of Dahmer claiming that the documents in question were exempt under statute 44:4(6) which exempts records "in the custody or control of the legislative auditor" and "the actual working papers of the internal auditor of a municipality until the audit is complete".
- On June 29, 20002 the district court ruled in favor of Dahmer and the news agencies, ordering the documents released.
- Kyle appealed the decision.
Ruling of the court
The trial court ruled in favor of Perrilloux, stating that the documents could in fact be released. However, the judge stayed his decision until the appeal was completed.
The Court of Appeals affirmed the decision of the trial court, ordering the documents released.
The Court of Appeals determined that the Perrilloux did have both custody and control of the documents in question, despite the fact that he did not generate the documents himself. This custody and control rendered Perrilloux the custodian of the records in question, thus eliminating the potential application of the exception for documents held by the state legislative auditor. The court went on to determine that exemptions for investigative authorities did not apply to the documents because there was no chance of pending litigation, and the state legislative auditor was not one of the agencies listed as an investigative agency. Finally, while the court agreed that the accountant-client privilege established in Louisiana Law did run at odds with the release of the documents in question, the court none-the-less felt that the legislatures passage of the open records act eliminated any potential protections in favor of a policy of openness. Based on all these facts, the Court of Appeals affirmed the decision of the trial court, ruling in favor of Kyle and the news agencies and ordering the documents released.
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 1.2 Ruling of the Court