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Fort Wayne TV station seeks to broadcast doctor’s sentencing hearing

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A Fort Wayne television station has filed an appeal challenging a Huntington Circuit judge’s order denying its request to air a trial court recording of a doctor’s sentencing hearing for felony sexual battery.

WPTA ABC 21 filed an Access to Public Records Request with Huntington County to obtain an official court recording of the sentencing of local Dr. John Mathew. Mathew, who was originally charged with rape and sexual battery for incidents that happened in 2014 and 2015 involving an employee, pleaded guilty earlier this year to two counts of felony sexual battery.

At his April 17 sentencing hearing, the doctor, the victim, her husband, and others testified before Huntington Circuit Judge Thomas Hakes sentenced Mathew to four years suspended, probation and the requirement he register as a sex offender for 10 years.

After learning the trial court had recorded sentencing, WPTA filed the APRA request and obtained a copy of the recording. Hakes then entered an order that same day barring the TV station from broadcasting any of the recording.

A motion to reconsider was denied, with Hakes citing Judicial Conduct Rule 2.17, which allows a judge to prohibit any broadcasting, recording or photographing of court proceedings without prior Indiana Supreme Court approval.

WPTA filed an appeal Tuesday with the Indiana Court of Appeals, challenging whether the court may limit the use and dissemination of a publicly available court record without complying with Administrative Rule 9 and whether broadcasting the record after the conclusion a criminal proceeding violates Judicial Conduct Rule 2.17

“We hope this case sets a precedent for reporters across the state, to ensure they have access to court recordings and are able to broadcast them,” WPTA Vice President and General Manager Merry Ewing said. “We should always be concerned when freedom of the press rights are restricted.”

The station is represented by Bingham Greenebaum Doll LLP attorneys Margaret Christensen and Jessica Whelan.

An Indiana Supreme Court spokesperson declined to comment on the case. The Indiana Attorney General’s Office had not responded to a request for comment by IL deadline.

The case is WPTA-TV v. State of Indiana, 35A02-1705-CR-01060.
 

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  1. He TIL team,please zap this comment too since it was merely marking a scammer and not reflecting on the story. Thanks, happy Monday, keep up the fine work.

  2. You just need my social security number sent to your Gmail account to process then loan, right? Beware scammers indeed.

  3. The appellate court just said doctors can be sued for reporting child abuse. The most dangerous form of child abuse with the highest mortality rate of any form of child abuse (between 6% and 9% according to the below listed studies). Now doctors will be far less likely to report this form of dangerous child abuse in Indiana. If you want to know what this is, google the names Lacey Spears, Julie Conley (and look at what happened when uninformed judges returned that child against medical advice), Hope Ybarra, and Dixie Blanchard. Here is some really good reporting on what this allegation was: http://media.star-telegram.com/Munchausenmoms/ Here are the two research papers: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/0145213487900810 http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0145213403000309 25% of sibling are dead in that second study. 25%!!! Unbelievable ruling. Chilling. Wrong.

  4. Mr. Levin says that the BMV engaged in misconduct--that the BMV (or, rather, someone in the BMV) knew Indiana motorists were being overcharged fees but did nothing to correct the situation. Such misconduct, whether engaged in by one individual or by a group, is called theft (defined as knowingly or intentionally exerting unauthorized control over the property of another person with the intent to deprive the other person of the property's value or use). Theft is a crime in Indiana (as it still is in most of the civilized world). One wonders, then, why there have been no criminal prosecutions of BMV officials for this theft? Government misconduct doesn't occur in a vacuum. An individual who works for or oversees a government agency is responsible for the misconduct. In this instance, somebody (or somebodies) with the BMV, at some time, knew Indiana motorists were being overcharged. What's more, this person (or these people), even after having the error of their ways pointed out to them, did nothing to fix the problem. Instead, the overcharges continued. Thus, the taxpayers of Indiana are also on the hook for the millions of dollars in attorneys fees (for both sides; the BMV didn't see fit to avail itself of the services of a lawyer employed by the state government) that had to be spent in order to finally convince the BMV that stealing money from Indiana motorists was a bad thing. Given that the BMV official(s) responsible for this crime continued their misconduct, covered it up, and never did anything until the agency reached an agreeable settlement, it seems the statute of limitations for prosecuting these folks has not yet run. I hope our Attorney General is paying attention to this fiasco and is seriously considering prosecution. Indiana, the state that works . . . for thieves.

  5. I'm glad that attorney Carl Hayes, who represented the BMV in this case, is able to say that his client "is pleased to have resolved the issue". Everyone makes mistakes, even bureaucratic behemoths like Indiana's BMV. So to some extent we need to be forgiving of such mistakes. But when those mistakes are going to cost Indiana taxpayers millions of dollars to rectify (because neither plaintiff's counsel nor Mr. Hayes gave freely of their services, and the BMV, being a state-funded agency, relies on taxpayer dollars to pay these attorneys their fees), the agency doesn't have a right to feel "pleased to have resolved the issue". One is left wondering why the BMV feels so pleased with this resolution? The magnitude of the agency's overcharges might suggest to some that, perhaps, these errors were more than mere oversight. Could this be why the agency is so "pleased" with this resolution? Will Indiana motorists ever be assured that the culture of incompetence (if not worse) that the BMV seems to have fostered is no longer the status quo? Or will even more "overcharges" and lawsuits result? It's fairly obvious who is really "pleased to have resolved the issue", and it's not Indiana's taxpayers who are on the hook for the legal fees generated in these cases.

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