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College newspaper sues Purdue for release of video

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A college newspaper sued Purdue University on Tuesday over its refusal to release surveillance video that editors said shows a staff photographer being roughed up by police when he entered the building where a student had been fatally shot and stabbed.

The Purdue Exponent and the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana say the university erroneously labeled the video recordings as evidence of the crime scene and failed to release those recordings as required by Indiana's public records access laws.

The complaint was filed in Tippecanoe Superior Court.

ACLU attorney Kelly Eskew said Purdue's refusal to release the video "stands in the way" of free press rights.

"I think the public has a right to view the video and make its own conclusions about what transpired," she said.

The incident occurred Jan. 21, after Cody Cousins, 23, entered a basement classroom filled with electrical engineering students and allegedly stabbed and shot 21-year-old Andrew Boldt. Cousins is charged with murder, and his public defender, Lafayette attorney Kirk Freeman, has filed notice that he intends to pursue an insanity defense.

According to the complaint, the photographer entered the building from a second-floor skywalk that was not sealed off by police. He quickly encountered police officers and identified himself as an Exponent photographer, then raised both hands, each containing a camera, and got down on his knees. The complaint contends he was pushed to the ground, then pulled to his feet, shoved against a wall and detained for several hours. His cameras, which were damaged in the process, were confiscated but eventually returned.

Eskew said the prosecutor advised police not to review the contents of the cameras and there was no evidence they had been tampered with.

The complaint said police allowed the photographer and other Exponent staff to view the video but have refused to release it.

Purdue denied the Exponent's request for the video in February, saying that releasing it could affect the murder investigation. The newspaper sought an advisory opinion from Indiana Public Access Counselor Luke Britt, who sided with Purdue but scolded the university for taking such a wide view of what constitutes investigatory records.

"An agency cannot claim an investigatory record and not truly be part of the investigation," Britt wrote. "While the university is correct it is a broad category and relatively straightforward, it is not a catch-all for any and all material which could possibly have a remote association with an investigation."

Eskew said the Exponent and the ACLU disagree with Britt's opinion and are seeking legal review.

"In this case, Purdue has refused to release the video surveillance on the grounds that it has some nexus to the events in the basement of the building," Eskew said. "We disagree. The video we're requesting only pertains to the incident involving the Exponent's photojournalist."

Purdue said in a statement Tuesday that it has followed the requirements of the public records law.

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  1. So that none are misinformed by my posting wihtout a non de plume here, please allow me to state that I am NOT an Indiana licensed attorney, although I am an Indiana resident approved to practice law and represent clients in Indiana's fed court of Nth Dist and before the 7th circuit. I remain licensed in KS, since 1996, no discipline. This must be clarified since the IN court records will reveal that I did sit for and pass the Indiana bar last February. Yet be not confused by the fact that I was so allowed to be tested .... I am not, to be clear in the service of my duty to be absolutely candid about this, I AM NOT a member of the Indiana bar, and might never be so licensed given my unrepented from errors of thought documented in this opinion, at fn2, which likely supports Mr Smith's initial post in this thread: http://caselaw.findlaw.com/us-7th-circuit/1592921.html

  2. When I served the State of Kansas as Deputy AG over Consumer Protection & Antitrust for four years, supervising 20 special agents and assistant attorneys general (back before the IBLE denied me the right to practice law in Indiana for not having the right stuff and pretty much crushed my legal career) we had a saying around the office: Resist the lure of the ring!!! It was a take off on Tolkiem, the idea that absolute power (I signed investigative subpoenas as a judge would in many other contexts, no need to show probable cause)could corrupt absolutely. We feared that we would overreach constitutional limits if not reminded, over and over, to be mindful to not do so. Our approach in so challenging one another was Madisonian, as the following quotes from the Father of our Constitution reveal: The essence of Government is power; and power, lodged as it must be in human hands, will ever be liable to abuse. We are right to take alarm at the first experiment upon our liberties. I believe there are more instances of the abridgement of freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments by those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations. Liberty may be endangered by the abuse of liberty, but also by the abuse of power. All men having power ought to be mistrusted. -- James Madison, Federalist Papers and other sources: http://www.constitution.org/jm/jm_quotes.htm RESIST THE LURE OF THE RING ALL YE WITH POLITICAL OR JUDICIAL POWER!

  3. My dear Mr Smith, I respect your opinions and much enjoy your posts here. We do differ on our view of the benefits and viability of the American Experiment in Ordered Liberty. While I do agree that it could be better, and that your points in criticism are well taken, Utopia does indeed mean nowhere. I think Madison, Jefferson, Adams and company got it about as good as it gets in a fallen post-Enlightenment social order. That said, a constitution only protects the citizens if it is followed. We currently have a bevy of public officials and judicial agents who believe that their subjectivism, their personal ideology, their elitist fears and concerns and cause celebs trump the constitutions of our forefathers. This is most troubling. More to follow in the next post on that subject.

  4. Yep I am not Bryan Brown. Bryan you appear to be a bigger believer in the Constitution than I am. Were I still a big believer then I might be using my real name like you. Personally, I am no longer a fan of secularism. I favor the confessional state. In religious mattes, it seems to me that social diversity is chaos and conflict, while uniformity is order and peace.... secularism has been imposed by America on other nations now by force and that has not exactly worked out very well.... I think the American historical experiment with disestablishmentarianism is withering on the vine before our eyes..... Since I do not know if that is OK for an officially licensed lawyer to say, I keep the nom de plume.

  5. I am compelled to announce that I am not posting under any Smith monikers here. That said, the post below does have a certain ring to it that sounds familiar to me: http://www.catholicnewworld.com/cnwonline/2014/0907/cardinal.aspx

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