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Justices to hear 'robocalls' arguments Monday

January 1, 2008
The Indiana Supreme Court travels to Terre Haute Monday for arguments in a case dealing with "robocalls." The issue in State of Indiana v. American Family Voices, Inc., Jim Gonzalez, and John Does 2-10, is whether pre-recorded, automated "robocalls" with political content can be limited under Indiana's Automatic Dialing Machine Statute, Indiana Code Section 24-5-14-5. The case stems from complaints about American Family Voices' use of automated calls; the attorney general's office filed an action against the group in September 2006 in Harrison Circuit Court. The Circuit Court granted American Family Voices' motion to dismiss the complaint, leading to the state seeking immediate transfer of the case to the Supreme Court. The central committees of the Indiana Democratic and Republican parties have filed briefs arguing that political pre-recorded calls are legal.
At issue is whether the 1988 state law banning these calls - which the attorney general first started enforcing in 2006 - applies only to commercial or sales-related calls, or whether it extends to include political-related calls.

Since 2004, the state has filed numerous suits against companies or reached agreements over alleged violations of federal or state statutes regulating automated and pre-recorded calls, including Eyeglass World LLC, Promise Keepers, and the Economic Freedom Fund. In September 2007, the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals dismissed FreeEats.com, Inc. v. State of Indiana and Steve Carter, Attorney General, No. 06-3900, a suit filed by FreeEats.com Inc. that challenged Indiana's prerecorded telephone messages statute. The federal appellate court ruled because a state court was already considering the issue, it could provide an adequate legal remedy. FreeEats.com filed the federal action seeking an injunction to stop the state's enforcement of the statute after the attorney general filed a state claim against a company that hired FreeEats.com to make the pre-recorded calls to Hoosiers. Arguments begin at 1 p.m. in the Tilson Auditorium in the Hulman Center at Indiana State University, 200 N. Eighth St., Terre Haute.
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