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High court overturns confidentiality order

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The Indiana Supreme Court today overturned a Marion Superior Court's approval of a "Confidentiality Stipulation and Order," clearing the way for hundreds of documents to be opened and available for public inspection.

Marion Superior Court originally granted the parties' request to seal documents in the litigation of Travelers Casualty and Surety Co., et al. v. United States Filter Corp. n/k/a Water Applications & Systems Corp., et al. No. 49A02-0604-CV-289, which is currently on appeal to the Supreme Court. The case involves insurance coverage for bodily injury claims caused by exposure to silica.

The high court ordered the parties in August to show cause as to why the documents in this case should be confidential. The original stipulation cited the parties agreed the discovery and disclosure of privileged, confidential, or sensitive information may come up in litigation.

The Supreme Court vacated the confidentiality order today because the parties didn't offer any particularized arguments as to why Indiana Administrative Rule 9(H) would have allowed the trial court to exclude documents it tendered. Under this rule, a public hearing must be conducted before the trial court can grant an exclusion of documents from public access, which didn't happen in this case, wrote Chief Justice Randall T. Shepard.

Waste Applications cited Richey v. Chappell, 594 N.E.2d 443 (Ind. 1992) to justify the confidentiality order, arguing some documents should be excluded from public access by virtue of "insurer-insured privilege" and documents submitted are excluded from public view by Administrative Rule 9(G)(1)(b).

But the protections recognized under that rule by itself do not exclude documents submitted to a court from public access because the mechanism to seek to exclude information by a specific court order appears in Rule 9(H), which requires a public hearing, wrote the chief justice.

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  1. Major social engineering imposed by judicial order well in advance of democratic change, has been the story of the whole post ww2 period. Contraception, desegregation, abortion, gay marriage: all rammed down the throats of Americans who didn't vote to change existing laws on any such thing, by the unelected lifetime tenure Supreme court heirarchs. Maybe people came to accept those things once imposed upon them, but, that's accommodation not acceptance; and surely not democracy. So let's quit lying to the kids telling them this is a democracy. Some sort of oligarchy, but no democracy that's for sure, and it never was. A bourgeois republic from day one.

  2. JD Massur, yes, brings to mind a similar stand at a Texas Mission in 1836. Or Vladivostok in 1918. As you seemingly gloat, to the victors go the spoils ... let the looting begin, right?

  3. I always wondered why high fence deer hunting was frowned upon? I guess you need to keep the population steady. If you don't, no one can enjoy hunting! Thanks for the post! Fence

  4. Whether you support "gay marriage" or not is not the issue. The issue is whether the SCOTUS can extract from an unmentionable somewhere the notion that the Constitution forbids government "interference" in the "right" to marry. Just imagine time-traveling to Philadelphia in 1787. Ask James Madison if the document he and his fellows just wrote allowed him- or forbade government to "interfere" with- his "right" to marry George Washington? He would have immediately- and justly- summoned the Sergeant-at-Arms to throw your sorry self out into the street. Far from being a day of liberation, this is a day of capitulation by the Rule of Law to the Rule of What's Happening Now.

  5. With today's ruling, AG Zoeller's arguments in the cases of Obamacare and Same-sex Marriage can be relegated to the ash heap of history. 0-fer

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