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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. You can put your photos anywhere you like... When someone steals it they know it doesn't belong to them. And, a man getting a divorce is automatically not a nice guy...? That's ridiculous. Since when is need of money a conflict of interest? That would mean that no one should have a job unless they are already financially solvent without a job... A photographer is also under no obligation to use a watermark (again, people know when a photo doesn't belong to them) or provide contact information. Hey, he didn't make it easy for me to pay him so I'll just take it! Well heck, might as well walk out of the grocery store with a cart full of food because the lines are too long and you don't find that convenient. "Only in Indiana." Oh, now you're passing judgement on an entire state... What state do you live in? I need to characterize everyone in your state as ignorant and opinionated. And the final bit of ignorance; assuming a photo anyone would want is lucky and then how much does your camera have to cost to make it a good photo, in your obviously relevant opinion?

  2. Seventh Circuit Court Judge Diane Wood has stated in “The Rule of Law in Times of Stress” (2003), “that neither laws nor the procedures used to create or implement them should be secret; and . . . the laws must not be arbitrary.” According to the American Bar Association, Wood’s quote drives home this point: The rule of law also requires that people can expect predictable results from the legal system; this is what Judge Wood implies when she says that “the laws must not be arbitrary.” Predictable results mean that people who act in the same way can expect the law to treat them in the same way. If similar actions do not produce similar legal outcomes, people cannot use the law to guide their actions, and a “rule of law” does not exist.

  3. Linda, I sure hope you are not seeking a law license, for such eighteenth century sentiments could result in your denial in some jurisdictions minting attorneys for our tolerant and inclusive profession.

  4. Mazel Tov to the newlyweds. And to those bakers, photographers, printers, clerks, judges and others who will lose careers and social standing for not saluting the New World (Dis)Order, we can all direct our Two Minutes of Hate as Big Brother asks of us. Progress! Onward!

  5. My daughter was taken from my home at the end of June/2014. I said I would sign the safety plan but my husband would not. My husband said he would leave the house so my daughter could stay with me but the case worker said no her mind is made up she is taking my daughter. My daughter went to a friends and then the friend filed a restraining order which she was told by dcs if she did not then they would take my daughter away from her. The restraining order was not in effect until we were to go to court. Eventually it was dropped but for 2 months DCS refused to allow me to have any contact and was using the restraining order as the reason but it was not in effect. This was Dcs violating my rights. Please help me I don't have the money for an attorney. Can anyone take this case Pro Bono?

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