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[ATG] Attorney General’s statement on representation in public records appeal
Start Date: 3/12/2012
End Date: 3/12/2012
Entry Description

 

INDIANAPOLIS A South Bend newspaper will be free to publish and post audio recordings from a child abuse prevention hotline, now that Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller has intervened and obtained a dismissal of a state agency’s appeal that had sought to prevent publication
.

 

“Prior restraint of the news media publishing public records is inconsistent with the First Amendment. As the lawyer for state government, the Office of the Indiana Attorney General now asserts the legal position of the state that in the interest of openness and transparency, the publication of public records should not be halted,” Zoeller said today.

 


The Indiana Court of Appeals today was scheduled to hear the Indiana Department of Child Service’s appeal of a St. Joseph County court’s order that had granted access to audio recordings from a child abuse prevention hotline to the South Bend Tribune. DCS contended the recordings were confidential. On Friday, the Court of Appeals granted DCS’s motion and stayed the trial court’s order granting access to the audio files, until the issue could be argued by DCS and the Tribune at today’s hearing.

 

The DCS is authorized to represent itself with DCS attorneys in cases at the trial level, primarily in matters involving the interests of individual children. The Office of the Attorney General reserves the right to represent the state’s legal position in all legal cases, however, and today entered its appearance in the Court of Appeals and assumed representation of the case from DCS attorneys. The Attorney General then filed a motion to dismiss DCS’s appeal, meaning the St. Joseph County court’s earlier order releasing the information still stands, the Court of Appeals’ order of Friday can be dissolved and there no longer will be a legal obstacle to the audio files being published by the Tribune.

 


Zoeller said the longstanding authorization for DCS to provide its own legal representation will be reviewed, since the Attorney General’s office must represent the interests of state government where statewide or constitutional issues are involved. “An appropriate legal process exists where state agencies and the news media can resolve disputes over whether records are public, and we acknowledge the views of our DCS colleagues on this issue. Once records have been provided, however, the State of Indiana cannot and should not attempt to prevent publication but must instead rely on journalistic ethics,” Zoeller added.

 


NOTE: The Attorney General’s motion to dismiss in the case of DCS v. South Bend Tribune is attached.

Contact Information:
Name: Bryan Corbin
Phone: 317.233.3970
Email: Bryan.Corbin@atg.in.gov
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Attachments For This Entry:
    > Attorney General's motion to dismiss: DCS v. South Bend Tribune
Entry Type:
Press Release
Entry Category:
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  • IN.gov Category:
  • Family & Health
  • Law & Justice
  • Public Safety
  • Agency Name
    Attorney General

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