A long-running legal battle over the governor’s decision to deny a 2014 open-records request was resolved in Pence’s favor by a three-judge panel.
By a 2-1 vote, the court upheld a lower court’s ruling that Pence acted properly when he withheld some documents that had been sought by Indianapolis attorney William Groth under the Indiana Access to Public Records Act. The court agreed with Pence’s argument that the documents, which related to Indiana’s decision to join the state of Texas in a legal challenge to an immigration order by President Barack Obama, were legal working papers that were exempt from public disclosure.
Judge Edward Najam wrote that one of the documents the governor decided to withhold, a “white paper” on legal strategy that was prepared by a Texas official, “is exactly the type of record that may be excluded from public access under APRA.” The court ruled that the governor’s decision to redact some information from legal invoices related to the decision was similarly within the law.
This is the way the law is supposed to work. The Indiana public access counselor, Luke Britt, and a superior court judge had previously come to the same conclusion.
But Pence’s legal team sought to go much further, citing an Indiana Supreme Court decision last year that has made the legislature virtually exempt from its own open-records requirements. Continue…