Here is the article:
The Indiana Supreme Court deserves a pat on the back.
It sent a strong message to trial judges and attorneys throughout the state Monday that the judiciary is to be open to public scrutiny.
The five justices issued an "order to show cause" why they should not overrule a trial court order of confidentiality applying to documents filed with a Marion County Superior Court and the appellate courts. The case involved is Travelers Casualty and Surety Company, et al. v. United States Filter Corporation.
"Both the Indiana General Assembly and this Court have adopted public accessibility as the default rule for information submitted to government entities, including the state's court," wrote Chief Justice Randall Shepard.
"The legislature has declared that 'all persons are entitled to full and complete information regarding the affairs of government.' Likewise, this Court has adopted rules on public access to court records, the objective of which is 'to provide maximum public accessibility to court records, taking into account public policy interests that are not always fully compatible with unrestricted access,'" Shepard wrote, quoting from the Access to Public Records Act and Administrative Rule 9, which is the Supreme Court's rule on records accessibility.
The order indicates the confidentiality stipulation and order of Superior Court Judge Cale Bradford did not comply with the judiciary's Administrative Rule 9 requirements before approval of such an order.
This rule requires a judge contemplating a confidentiality order for records submitted to the court to post advance public notice of a hearing on the issue. Anyone, including the media, has the right to respond to the request for secrecy and argue for the public's right to access the court documents.
The burden is on the party requesting confidentiality to demonstrate:
>> ï€®The public interest will be substantially served by prohibiting access.
>> ï€®Or, access or dissemination of the information will create a significant risk of substantial harm to the requestor, other persons or the general public.
>> ï€®Or, a substantial prejudicial effect to on-going proceedings cannot be avoided without prohibiting public access.
>> ï€®Or, the information should have been made confidential under section (G) of the rule, which outlines documents the court has decided should be kept confidential; for example, records of grand jury proceedings.
The judge must "balance the public access interests served by this rule and the grounds demonstrated by the requestor" in determining whether to issue the confidentiality order. If an order is issued, the judge must state the reasons for granting or denying the request.Blanket confidentiality of records involved in a court case doesn't serve the public. The Supreme Court's Order to Show Cause hopefully will send a clear message to both judges and lawyers that the public's interest in an open court system must be taken into account even if the parties to a case would prefer to keep the details of their civil dispute secret.
One thing this blogger forgot to write about is adoption. Adoption is the only industry that allows this kind of blanket confidentiality. Everyone else not adopted related can have access to the documents that the government has on them but adoptees, their adoptive and natural families. It is also restricted to adoptees born between 1941-1993. My adoptive mother wants those records. If my natural mother requested them, she would have the same hell that I would have. I can not access them or even get a copy of them. Just who is the industry protecting? Themselves. I wish this blogger would check it out. I doubt that they will. The Indy Star is known for protecting the adoption industry.