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Newspaper loses appeal over access to death records

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A newspaper was not improperly denied access to death records, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled Friday.

The Evansville Courier & Press requested death records from the Vanderburgh County Department of Health under the Access to Public Records Act, and after an initial advisory opinion to the contrary, the Indiana Public Access Counselor concluded denial was improper.

But the health department continued to refuse to hand over the records, and the Vanderburgh Circuit Court ruled against the newspaper when it sued. An appellate panel affirmed, holding that while these are public records, statutes clearly make exclusions.

Judge Michael Barnes wrote for the panel that I.C. 16-37-1-8 states a local health officer shall provide death certificates “only if” the person seeking the record has a direct interest, among other conditions.

“As neither the Courier & Press nor Ward showed they had a direct interest in the death certificates or that the death certificates were necessary for the determination of personal or property rights or for compliance with state or federal law, the Health Department properly denied their requests,” Barnes wrote for the panel in Evansville Courier & Press and Rita Ward v. Vanderburgh County Health Department, 82A04-1302-PL-57.

“A local health officer need only provide a death certificate to an applicant fulfilling the direct interest and necessity requirements of Section 16-37-1-8. As neither the Courier & Press nor Ward provided any information to make such a showing, the Health Department properly denied their requests,” Barnes wrote.



 
 

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  1. Oh yes, lifetime tenure. The Founders gave that to the federal judges .... at that time no federal district courts existed .... so we are talking the Supreme Court justices only in context ....so that they could rule against traditional marriage and for the other pet projects of the sixties generation. Right. Hmmmm, but I must admit, there is something from that time frame that seems to recommend itself in this context ..... on yes, from a document the Founders penned in 1776: " He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good."

  2. Payday loans take advantage of people in many ways. It's great to hear that the courts are using some of their sins to pay money back to the community. Hopefully this will help change the culture of many loan companies, and make lending a much safer endeavor for those in need. http://lawsuitlendingnow.com/lawsuit-loans-post-settlement.html

  3. A traditional parade of attorneys? Really Evansville? Y'all need to get out more. When is the traditional parade of notaries? Nurses? Sanitation workers? Pole dancers? I gotta wonder, do throngs of admiring citizens gather to laud these marching servants of the constitution? "Show us your billing records!!!" Hoping some video gets posted. Ours is not a narcissistic profession by any chance, is it? Nah .....

  4. My previous comment not an aside at court. I agree with smith. Good call. Just thought posting here a bit on the if it bleeds it leads side. Most attorneys need to think of last lines of story above.

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