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Last modified: Monday, July 23, 2012

IU School of Journalism will host seminar on public access and government transparency

July 23, 2012

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- The Indiana University School of Journalism will host a free seminar for the public on Thursday, July 26, about legal rights of access to government meetings and records.

Ernie Pyle Hall

Photo courtesy of IU School of Journalism

Ernie Pyle Hall

The IU journalism school is partnering with the Office of the Indiana Attorney General, which also is holding similar events around the state through November, the Indiana Public Access Counselor's Office and the Hoosier State Press Association.

The seminar will be from 6 to 8 p.m. in Room 214 of Ernie Pyle Hall, 940 E. Seventh St., on the IU Bloomington campus. Attorneys attending will be able to obtain two hours of free Continuing Legal Education credits.

"Part of our mission is to educate the public about the rights they have as citizens in getting information and expressing themselves," said Anthony L. Fargo, IU associate professor of journalism and vice president of the Indiana Coalition for Open Government. "We hope people will find this event helpful and come planning to be actively engaged."

"Accountability is key to a functioning democracy," added Steve Key, executive director and general counsel of the Hoosier State Press Association. "The state's public access laws give citizens the ability to know what government officials and employees are doing or contemplating with taxpayer dollars."

Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller said the public access seminars provide useful tools for Hoosiers who want to know how governmental decisions are made and how tax dollars are spent.

"Government officials and their lawyers may need to brush up on their obligations to keep meetings open and records public and learn about the new legislation passed this year, so the free public access seminar series is good training on transparency for both audiences," Zoeller said.

Participating in Thursday's seminar will be:

  • Joe Hoage, Indiana public access counselor.
  • Anne Mullin O'Connor, deputy attorney general and the state's first public access counselor.
  • Steve Key, executive director and general counsel of the HSPA.

They will discuss citizens' rights and officials' responsibilities under the Indiana Access to Public Records Act and Indiana Open Door Law, as well as House Enrolled Act 1003, a bill the legislature passed this year that for the first time imposes fines on certain public officials who withhold public records or deny access to meetings -- $100 for the first violation and $500 for additional violations.

The public, attorneys and government workers are invited to attend. Attorneys need to register in order to qualify for 2.0 hours of free CLE. To register, contact the attorney general's office at 317-233-6143 or register online. For a complete list of public access seminar sessions, visit the attorney general's website.