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Law and Criminal Justice

Court Rules Notre Dame Police Must Comply With Open Records Law

Christian Schnettelker

The Indiana Court of Appeals says the University of Notre Dame’s security police department is a public agency and therefore should comply with open records requests.

But questions remain about what types of records the university must release.

The ruling is the latest decision in a lawsuit ESPN filed against Notre Dame last year for failing to hand over records the sports network requested.

ESPN had requested records from several universities as part of an inquiry into interactions between university police departments and student athletes.

After Notre Dame refused to provide the requested information, ESPN went to court.  

ESPN argues that although Notre Dame is a private institution, its police department is a public entity authorized by the state.

The Indiana Court of Appeals ruled in favor of ESPN on Tuesday, saying Notre Dame’s security police department is a public agency and must comply with records requests.

But the court says that doesn’t mean the police department has to hand over the documents ESPN asked for.

The appellate court sent the issue back to the trial court to determine which records the department must produce under Indiana’s public record laws.

A bill sitting on the governor’s desk would classify private university police departments as public agencies, but exempt them from releasing certain records.

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