Indiana AG sides with ESPN in appeal
Observer Staff Report | Friday, August 21, 2015
Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller is on ESPN’s side.
In a 26-page amicus brief filed last Thursday, the state’s chief legal officer came out in support of ESPN in its appeal of an April St. Joseph Superior Court ruling that Notre Dame Security Police (NDSP) is not subject to Indiana’s public records access law.
“A police officer is perhaps the quintessential public employee, cloaked in the authority of the State to investigate, detain, arrest, incarcerate, carry and discharge a firearm, and generally maintain the safety of the citizenry,” the brief stated. “The notion that a police department exercising these core state powers can be shielded from public scrutiny by dint of its affiliation with a private university is antithetical to the important policy interests underlying the Access to Public Records Act.”
In a press release, Zoeller said his office supports the opinions handed down by Indiana Public Access Counselor Luke Britt, whose non-binding opinions said NDSP ought to release its records to the public.
“The State takes the legal position that transparency is needed in the exercise of police power in order to maintain the public’s trust,” Zoeller said in the release. “Disclosing that a possible crime occurred and conveying basic pertinent information helps inform and protect the public and creates more transparency and accountability within the criminal justice system.”
In October, ESPN reporter Paula Lavigne requested NDSP records, but was denied. In January, ESPN filed its initial lawsuit in St. Joseph Superior Court to obtain the records, and on April 20, a judge ruled in favor of Notre Dame. The Court of Appeals will rule on the case at a later date, according to the Attorney General’s press release.
University spokesperson Dennis Brown declined to comment Tuesday.