KANSAS -- Twelve refusals by police did not stop the University
of Kansas student newspaper staff from accessing an accident report.
Despite the Kansas Highway Patrol's claim that the report was exempt
from the state open-records act, The University Daily Kansan decided
to take its request to court where a judge ordered the cops to comply.
When The Kansan requested access to the report on a fatal September
car accident involving two local residents, state police said they would
not release the report because it was part of a criminal investigation.
But Shawnee County District Court Judge Terry Bullock ruled in March
that the record should be considered public and turned over to the newspaper.
John Eichkorn, state public information officer for the Kansas Highway
Patrol, said the patrol then turned over the records and will not appeal
According to Eichkorn, the patrol initially refused the newspaper's
request to avoid jeopardizing the pending criminal investigation that later
resulted in a 16-year-old pleading no contest to a charge of involuntary
Nathan Willis, now opinion editor of The Kansan, filed suit against
the patrol in November, claiming the patrol violated the Kansas Open Records
Act by refusing to release the report.
In his decision, Bullock said he ruled in favor of the newspaper because
Willis was simply requesting the report the patrol must forward to the
Kansas Department of Transportation.