The Indiana Supreme Court ruled that certificates of death, which include the cause of death, are public records subject to copying and inspection upon request to county health departments.

The unanimous decision came Oct. 7. Click here for the ruling.

Justice Mark Massa wrote the opinion in favor of the Evansville Courier & Press and Vanderburgh County resident Rita Ward, who filed the lawsuit against the Vanderburgh County Health Department.

The Hoosier State Press Associ­ation Foundation filed an amicus brief in the case. Media and litigation attorney Steve Badger wrote the brief.

The justices got it right, said Steve Key, executive director and general counsel of HSPA.

“The legislature has rejected several efforts to make these records secret, and the Supreme Court supported that stance,” Key said.

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