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Indiana Supreme Court takes dispute between ESPN and Notre Dame

July 5, 2016

The Indiana Supreme Court will decide whether the police records of University of Notre Dame Police Department are subject to the state’s Access to Public Records Act. The justices accepted transfer to the dispute between ESPN and Notre Dame last week.

In March, the Indiana Court of Appeals held that the school’s police department is a public agency under the APRA and is subject to APRA requests, overturning a St. Joseph Superior Court decision. The COA ordered the trial court to evaluate ESPN’s records request to determine which records the police department is required to produce under APRA.

ESPN filed public records requests with the police department seeking incident reports for specified student-athletes and later daily logs, which were repeatedly denied by police. The department claimed it was not a public law enforcement agency for purposes of APRA and that it did not have documents responsive to ESPN’s request.

As this case was unfolding in the appellate court, the Indiana Legislature passed a bill that said certain records of a private university’s police department relating to arrests or incarcerations for criminal offenses are public record. Gov. Mike Pence vetoed the bill, saying in a statement, “While House Enrolled Act 1022 provides for limited disclosure of records from private university police departments, it would limit the application of the Access to Public Records Act following the Court of Appeals decision and result in less disclosure, therefore I have decided to veto the bill.”

The case is ESPN, Inc. and Paula Lavigne v. University of Notre Dame Security Police Dept., a Dept. of the University of Notre Dame du Lac, 71S05-1606-MI-359.

The justices also accepted a criminal case and post-conviction case on transfer.

In Michael Day v. State of Indiana, Michael Day was convicted of Class B misdemeanor disorderly conduct, which the Court of Appeals affirmed in a divided opinion in March.  Day’s conviction was based on an argument with his wife over selling their house in front of their children. He screamed at her to sign papers for the house as they were divorcing and he was upset she wanted to talk to an attorney first. Judge John Baker, in his dissent, wrote that “a verbal argument between members of a household, within their own home” cannot be the “sole basis of a criminal conviction for disorderly conduct.”

“I cannot conclude that our legislature intended that two teenaged siblings arguing over what TV show to watch within their own home could be adjudicated delinquent,” he wrote.

In Demajio Ellis v. State of Indiana, the Court of Appeals in a memorandum decision affirmed the denial of Demajio Ellis’ petition for post-conviction relief. They found he entered a reliable guilty plea and did not deny his culpability, thus his plea should not be vacated as a matter of law.

The justices denied transfer to nine other cases last week, including Demetrius Holloway v. State of Indiana, 71A04-1508-CR-1292, in which the Supreme Court heard arguments Thursday as to whether to take the intimidation case.
 

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