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Judges’ ruling in email records case defers to public access counselor

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A request for the email records of public officials that simply asks for emails to or from officials over a certain period of time doesn’t satisfy the Access to Public Records Act, a panel of the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled Tuesday.

The issue of first impression presented in Seth Anderson v. Huntington County Board of Commissioners, 35A04-1207-MI-357, is what makes a request for records “reasonably particular” as required by I.C. 5-14-3.

Anderson received the emails he sought to and from four Huntington County officials, but only after suing when his initial request for documents was denied as not reasonably particular. Before the Court of Appeals, Anderson’s attorney argued there were larger issues involved.

But the COA ruling makes clear that even though Huntington County officials provided Anderson the documents he requested, they didn’t have to. Before filing suit, Anderson had received an opinion from Public Access Counselor Joe Hoage stating that his request had not been made with reasonable particularity. Hoage suggested possible modifications Anderson could make to his request to meet the statutory requirement, such as asking for emails from a particular person to another during a specified period.

“Although the Commissioners ultimately spent the time and expense compiling and reviewing 9500 emails, they did not necessarily have a legal obligation to do so,” Judge John Baker wrote for the unanimous panel. “The Public Access Counselor’s opinions state the opposite. To be sure, the fact that the Commissioners provided the information exactly as Anderson requested it does not define the APRA. Indeed, we agree with the Public Access Counselor’s opinion that Anderson’s requests were not reasonably particular under the APRA.”

The court also declined to award costs and attorney fees to Anderson.


 

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  1. KUDOS to the Indiana Supreme Court for realizing that some bureacracies need to go to the stake. Recall what RWR said: "No government ever voluntarily reduces itself in size. Government programs, once launched, never disappear. Actually, a government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we'll ever see on this earth!" NOW ... what next to this rare and inspiring chopping block? Well, the Commission on Gender and Race (but not religion!?!) is way overdue. And some other Board's could be cut with a positive for State and the reputation of the Indiana judiciary.

  2. During a visit where an informant with police wears audio and video, does the video necessary have to show hand to hand transaction of money and narcotics?

  3. I will agree with that as soon as law schools stop lying to prospective students about salaries and employment opportunities in the legal profession. There is no defense to the fraudulent numbers first year salaries they post to mislead people into going to law school.

  4. The sad thing is that no fish were thrown overboard The "greenhorn" who had never fished before those 5 days was interrogated for over 4 hours by 5 officers until his statement was illicited, "I don't want to go to prison....." The truth is that these fish were measured frozen off shore and thawed on shore. The FWC (state) officer did not know fish shrink, so the only reason that these fish could be bigger was a swap. There is no difference between a 19 1/2 fish or 19 3/4 fish, short fish is short fish, the ticket was written. In addition the FWC officer testified at trial, he does not measure fish in accordance with federal law. There was a document prepared by the FWC expert that said yes, fish shrink and if these had been measured correctly they averaged over 20 inches (offshore frozen). This was a smoke and mirror prosecution.

  5. I love this, Dave! Many congrats to you! We've come a long way from studying for the bar together! :)

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