FOR PETITIONER: RANDAL J. KALTENMARK, ZIAADDIN MOLLABASHY, BARNES & THORNBURG LLP, Indianapolis, IN; MICHAEL H. SALAMA, THE WALT DISNEY COMPANY, Burbank, CA; JEFFREY M. VESELY, ANNIE H. HUANG, PILLSBURY WINTHROP SHAW, PITTMAN LLP, San Francisco, CA.
FOR RESPONDENT: GREGORY F. ZOELLER, ATTORNEY GENERAL OF INDIANA, EVAN W. BARTEL, JESSICA E. REAGAN, ANDREW T. GREIN, DEPUTY ATTORNEYS GENERAL, Indianapolis, IN.
ORDER ON PETITIONER'S AMENDED VERIFIED REQUEST TO PROHIBIT PUBLIC ACCESS TO INFORMATION IN THE COURT RECORD
Martha Blood Wentworth, Judge Indiana Tax Court.
ESPN Productions, Inc. has requested the Court to place certain documents within the judicial record under seal so they cannot be accessed by the general public. Being duly advised in the matter, the Court grants that request in part and denies it in part.
ESPN Productions is a Delaware corporation with its principal place of business in Bristol, Connecticut. (Pet'r Br. Supp. Mot. Summ. J. (" Pet'r Br." ) at 1, 5.) It performs production services for its parent company, ESPN, Inc. (" ESPN" ), and several of ESPN's wholly-owned subsidiaries. (Pet'r Br. at 1.) ESPN Productions charges ESPN a production service fee for these services. (Pet'r Br. at 8.)
For the tax years ending September 29, 2007, September 27, 2008, October 3, 2009, and October 2, 2010 (the years at issue), ESPN Productions filed Indiana corporate income tax returns, reporting and paying tax on income it received in connection with its in-state activities. (Pet'r Br. at 5-6.) On June 25, 2012, however, the Department issued Notices of Proposed Assessment, claiming that ESPN Productions owed additional tax for the years at issue. (See Pet'r Br. at 9.) ESPN Productions subsequently protested the proposed assessments. After holding an administrative hearing, the Department issued a Letter of Findings on October 21, 2013, denying the protest. ESPN Productions initiated an original tax appeal on December 19, 2013.
On January 23, 2015, ESPN Productions filed a motion for summary judgment and designated evidence in support thereof. That same day, it also sought a court order prohibiting public access to some of the designated evidence it had just submitted. Specifically, ESPN Productions sought to have the copies of its Indiana Adjusted Gross Income Tax Returns filed for the years at issue, as well as a copy of a Production Services Agreement it had with ESPN, sealed. (See Pet'r V. Req. Order Prohibiting Pub. Access Info. Ct. R. (" Pet'r Req." ) at ¶ ¶ 2, 5 (referring to Pet'r Des'g Evid. Supp. Mot. Summ. J. (" Pet'r Des'g Evid." ), App. A, Ex. 1, App. B, Exs. 1-4).) On February 11, 2015, ESPN Productions amended its request to include two Cable Television License Agreements and a copy of a document it referred to as its Supplement to Protest. (Pet'r Am. V. Req. Order Prohibiting Pub. Access Info. Ct. R. (" Pet'r Req. #2" ) at ¶ ¶ 3, 5-7 (referring to Pet'r Des'g Evid., App. B., Ex. 14, exs. C, D).)
The Court conducted a hearing on ESPN Productions' request on March 13, 2015. No one from the public appeared at the hearing to testify against sealing the documents. Moreover, the Department did not object to ESPN Productions' request. (See Hr'g Tr. at 20-21.) Additional facts will be supplied when necessary.
The general rule in Indiana is that information submitted to state governmental entities, including the courts, can be accessed by the public. Travelers Cas. & Sur. Co. v. U.S. Filter Corp.,895 N.E.2d 114, 115 (Ind. 2008). To promote such accessibility, the Indiana General Assembly has enacted the Access to Public Records Act (APRA), Indiana Code § 5-14-3-1 et seq., which guarantees that " all persons are entitled to full and complete information regarding the affairs of [their] government." Ind. Code § 5-14-3-1 (2015). Likewise, the Indiana Supreme ...