Q&A: Limit on investigory records?


From the Daily Reporter (Greenfield):

Q: A woman recently shot her husband to death in their home. The local prosecutor announced no charges will be filed in the case. With the case no longer under investigation, we’d like to request the recording of the police interview with the wife. Officials denied our request.

Are investigatory records investigatory forever, even if the case is dropped and no more investigating is going to occur?

A: You’re at the mercy of the law enforcement agency. The recorded interview would be an “investigatory record” under the Access to Public Records Act. The police have the discretion to disclose or keep confidential such records.

In Indiana, the status as an “investigatory record” doesn’t change when a case is closed.

If the law were changed, police departments wouldn’t close cases to effectively keep the records confidential, so Indiana’s law as it stands is a more honest approach in my view.

Contact Steve Key, HSPA executive director and general counsel, with media law questions at skey@hspa.com or (317) 624-4427.