Q&A: Vital statistics

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The following question came from Spencer Evening World:

Question: Our newly elected county clerk intends to stop allowing the newspaper access to records of property transfers and other vital statistics such as marriages and civil and criminal judgments. He is claiming confidentiality. Do you have any information you can send to me showing that we as a newspaper are allowed access to such records?

Answer: You need to point him to the Access to Public Records Act (IC 5-14-3), specifically to IC 5-14-3-1, which states the burden is on the public official that would deny access to a record to show what statutory basis he would have to deny that record. He can also look at IC 5-14-3-9(c).

Let him know that you believe those records are disclosable public records and if he would like a second opinion, he can check with the state’s Public Access Counselor, Andrew Kossack, at (317) 233-9435.

Have a media law question for Stephen Key, HSPA executive director and general counsel? Contact him at skey@hspa.com or (317) 624-4427.

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