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Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Ind. Decisions - More on "Judge rules public can't access cause of death records"

Updating this ILB entry from Jan. 30, 2013, Mark Wilson of the Evansville Courier & Press reports today in a story that begins:

The Courier & Press and Pike County, Ind., resident Rita Ward are appealing a judge’s decision that the Vanderburgh County Health Department does not have to provide the public information about a person’s causes of death.

At issue is how conflicting state laws governing death records apply to local government.

Senior Judge Carl Heldt’s ruling on Jan. 28 addressed the contradicting state laws that govern who maintains the information and who can access it, but he sided with the health department saying that the law it cited was more specific.

Ward and the newspaper filed a lawsuit in Vanderburgh Circuit Court in August 2012 after the county health department denied access to cause of death information in separate requests. The newspaper had published causes of death from 2002 until May 2012 when the health department stopped including death causes in the information it provided to the newspaper.

In his decision, Heldt acknowledged the conflicting laws and wrote that the law cited by the county is more specific than that law cited by the Courier & Press and the Indiana Public Access Counselor, who earlier offered a nonbinding opinion in support of access to the information.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on April 23, 2013 09:56 AM
Posted to Ind. Trial Ct. Decisions