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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. 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?

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  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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