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WPTA-TV v. State

Court of Appeals of Indiana

October 31, 2017

WPTA-TV, Appellant-Intervenor,
v.
State of Indiana, Appellee-Plaintiff, And John C. Mathew, Appellee-Defendant.

         Appeal from the Huntington Circuit Court No. 35C01-1605-F3-96 The Honorable Thomas M. Hakes, Judge

          Attorneys for Appellant Margaret M Christensen Bingham Greenebaum Doll, LLP Indianapolis, Indiana

          Attorneys for Appellee Curtis T. Hill, Jr. Attorney General of Indiana Stephen R. Creason Aaron T. Craft Deputy Attorneys General Indianapolis, Indiana

          RILEY, JUDGE.

         STATEMENT OF THE CASE

         [¶1] Appellant-Intervenor, WPTA-TV, appeals the trial court's grant of its request for a digitally recorded version of a publicly available court record while limiting WPTA-TV's use of the audio record and barring its broadcast or dissemination.

         [¶2] We affirm.

         ISSUES

         [¶3] WPTA-TV presents us with three issues on appeal, which we consolidate and restate as the following two issues:

(1)Whether the trial court abused its discretion when it applied Indiana Judicial Rule 2.17 to limit the use of an audio recording of a sentencing hearing by a news media organization; and
(2)Whether the trial court's prohibition to broadcast the audio recording of a judicial proceeding violates the First Amendment to the United States Constitution.

         FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         [¶4]On May 27, 2016, the State filed an Information, charging John C. Mathew (Mathew) with rape, as a Level 3 felony; sexual battery, as a Level 6 felony; and two Counts of battery, as Class B Misdemeanors. The State subsequently amended the rape charge to a charge for sexual battery, as a Level 6 felony. After Mathew pled guilty to both sexual battery Counts, the State dismissed the misdemeanor charges. On April 17, 2017, the trial court conducted a sentencing hearing during which the trial court imposed a two-year sentence on each Count. The trial court ordered the sentences to run consecutive to each other and suspended the entire sentence to probation with Mathew serving two years on "electronic monitoring/home detention" as a condition of probation. (Appellant's App. Vol. II, p. 5). Mathew was required to register as a sex offender.

         [¶5] On April 18, 2017, WPTA-TV submitted an access to public records request to receive the "audio recording of sentencing hearing[;] documents (electronic or otherwise) submitted as evidence[; and] private letters submitted on behalf of victim and defendant[.]" (Appellant's App. Vol. II, p. 11). On April 20, 2017, the trial court issued its Order Limiting the Use of Court Record and Barring Its Broadcast or Dissemination, concluding in, pertinent part, as follows:

2. The [c]ourt is required to provide the record as requested.
3. The requesting person may not broadcast the record, subject to the contempt ...

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