Amicus briefs support HSPA members


The Hoosier State Press Association Foundation Board of Directors approved support for the third and fourth amicus briefs requested in February – an unusually high amount.

Some years, the Foundation has no requests for amicus help.

The two most recently approved briefs involve HSPA member papers the Huntington Herald-Press, the Journal Gazette (Fort Wayne) and The Indianapolis Star.

Both the Herald-Press and Journal Gazette asked the Foundation to file a brief in Anderson v. Huntington County Board of Commissioners.

The question that the Indiana Supreme Court would answer is what “reasonable particularity” means when interpreting the state’s Access to Public Records Act.

The Indiana Court of Appeals decision in Anderson conflicts with another appellate panel’s decision on the meaning of the phrase in the public access law.

The Hoosier State Press Association and HSPA Foundation prefers the interpretation given in Jent v. Fort Wayne Police Department.

Jim Dimos of Frost Brown Todd in Indianapolis will draft the friend of the court brief asking the Indiana Supreme Court to transfer jurisdiction of the Anderson case to the state high court.

The Star requested amicus support for an appeal of a trial court ruling ordering the newspaper to turn over information that would identify an anonymous poster to its website to a plaintiff in a libel lawsuit.

The Star isn’t the defendant in the case, but plaintiff Jeffery Miller sought the name of the poster who commented on Miller’s departure from Junior Achievement, whom Miller is suing.

The question for the court is whether The Star can appeal immediately the adverse ruling, rather than comply with the subpoena and wait until the close of the case to appeal.

Waiting would make the appeal moot because the damage in revealing the identifying information would already be done.

“This anonymous poster issue pales in comparison to orders compelling non-party reporters to testify about their non-percipient newsgathering and non-party newspapers to produce notes or drafts,” said Jan Carroll, Barnes & Thornburg attorney in Indianapolis, who represents The Star.

Steve Badger of Benesch Law in Indianapolis has written the HSPA Foundation’s brief asking the Indiana Supreme Court to rule on the question.