As Ohio mandates more disclosure from private college police, ESPN appeals for Indiana to do the same

From The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press While the Ohio Supreme Court ruled in a 4-3 decision last week that private colleges’ police forces must make their records available to the public upon request, ESPN is appealing an Indiana court's ruling that the sports cable channel was not entitled to obtain police records from the University of Notre Dame.

St. Joseph Superior Court Judge Steven Hostetler wrote that a state Public Access Counselor was incorrect in determining that ESPN was entitled to records from Notre Dame’s police department.

“ESPN’s position assumes that the Indiana Legislature has the constitutional authority to require a private person or entity that is not funded to produce its records under [the Access to Public Records Act],” Hostetler wrote. “Such a requirement would certainly give rise to grave concerns about the right to privacy and the right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures.”

A federal court in Indiana had previously considered the issue of whether private college police officers' actions constituted “state action” under Indiana law in Torres v. University of Notre Dame du Lac in 2012. That case involved alleged violation by Notre Dame campus police officers of a protester’s First Amendment rights. The judge concluded that because the state of Indiana gave Notre Dame the police power, Notre Dame assumed the responsibilities to which other police departments are held.

“The broad grant of power to police officers for private universities leaves little to differentiate them from any other police officer in the state of Indiana,” the judge held in the 2012 case.

ESPN spokeswoman Keri Potts said she could not comment on the ongoing litigation

Frank LoMonte, executive director of the Student Press Law Center, said the Indiana ruling made little sense. Continue Reading>>