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[ATG] Attorney General: Ruling on police records is a victory for public access
Start Date: 3/15/2016Start Time: 12:00 AM
End Date: 3/15/2016
Entry Description

INDIANAPOLIS – The Indiana Court of Appeals today ruled that the University of Notre Dame Security Police Department functions as a public agency for the limited purposes of being required by statute to release police records to the public. Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller’s office last Aug. 13 authored and filed an amicus brief in the appeals court in support of ESPN Inc., which had sought to obtain records from the university police. Today the Court of Appeals panel ruled 3-0 for ESPN in the dispute. 

“The court's ruling is a qualified victory for public access and transparency, concepts my office long has supported. The public has the right to transparency and accountability when police power is being exercised, and we look forward to further judicial clarifications on the scope of the public's right to know in future decisions by our courts," Zoeller said.  

ESPN Inc. had filed suit last year to obtain and inspect university police records related to criminal incidents, but the St. Joseph County Superior Court ruled against the sports channel, ruling the university police did not have to disclose them. ESPN appealed, and the Attorney General’s Office filed its amicus brief -- also called a friend of the court brief -- in support of public access to police incident reports and logs, contending the private university’s police department functions like a municipal police department and should provide crime records that city police and county sheriffs do.  The Attorney General’s Office was not a party to the ESPN v. NDSPD lawsuit and did not represent either side.

As lawyer for state government, Attorney General Zoeller’s office previously has advocated for access to government records.  In 2014 the Attorney General’s Office filed an amicus brief in the Indiana Supreme Court contending that certificates of death registration at county health departments are not exempt from public disclosure. In 2011 and 2012, the Attorney General’s Office co-sponsored a series of free public access seminars around Indiana, in partnership with the Hoosier State Press Association and Public Access Counselor, to educate local officials, attorneys and the public on which government records are public and which meetings are open. Attorney General Zoeller in 2013 received the Frank O’Bannon Sunshine Award from the Hoosier State Press Association for his efforts to maintain access to government records.

NOTE: Background on the August 2015 amicus brief the Attorney General’s Office filed in the ESPN v. NDSPD appeal is at this link.

Location Information:
St. Joseph County

State House
Contact Information:
Name: Bryan Corbin
Phone: 317.233.3970
Entry Type:
Press Release
Entry Category:
  • Announcements
  • Category:
  • Government
  • Agency Name
    Attorney General

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