Indiana’s Public Access Counselor says Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita’s Office must turn over documents requested by Indy Politics publisher Abdul-Hakim Shabazz regarding Shabazz being banned from Rokita’s news conferences.
Shabazz had requested several documents as to why he was banned from Rokita’s news conferences back in October of 2021.
Rokita’s office requested Shabazz amend his request which he did.
In February, Shabazz filed a federal lawsuit against the Attorney General, who then later denied his request saying Shabazz had filed a federal suit and he could get the documents he requested through discovery.
In his opinion, Public Access Counselor Luke Britt wrote, “A person’s right to public records under the Access to Public Records Act is not affected by separate and still pending litigation in federal court. The Indiana Court of Appeals acknowledged this in its holding in Kenter v. Indiana Public Employers’ Plan, Inc., 852 N.E.2d 565 (Ind.App.2006).”
He also noted, “Since the existence of federal litigation on a separate matter is not an exemption or exception to disclosure under APRA, the OAG cannot, consistent with the law, base its denial of Shabazz’s request solely on the existence of that litigation.”
Britt went on to conclude, that it was the opinion of this office that the Office of the Attorney General must disclose any of the public records requested by Shabazz that are not otherwise subject to a disclosure exception under the Access to Public Records Act as soon as practicable. He also stated the existence of federal litigation is not an exemption or exception to disclosure, and the OAG has exceeded the reasonable time standard under the Access to Public Records Act in this case.