High court lets stand order barring publication of gaming license information
INDIANA–The Indiana Supreme Court refused in early December to hear an appeal by Howard Publications, owner of the Lake County Times in Munster, from an Indiana Court of Appeals decision barring the newspaper from publishing court file information about riverboat gambling.
A reporter gained the information by entering the trial judge’s chambers and asking to review the court file of a civil case involving Lake Michigan Charters, Ltd. The company was involved in civil litigation concerning its application for a state gaming license.
Two Indiana Supreme Court justices voted without opinion to deny review, while two justices voted to grant review. A final justice did not vote in the matter. Under court rules, the deadlock resulted in denial of review.
The two justices who favored review issued a dissenting opinion arguing that the state appellate court’s reliance on Seattle Times v. Rhinehart, a 1984 U.S. Supreme Court case in which a newspaper prohibited from publishing a list of a religious group’s donors, was misplaced. In that case, the Seattle Times was a party to a civil action and was restricted from disseminating information it received as a result of pre-trial depositions.
The two justices concluded that the weight of case precedent clearly affirms that “a court may not restrain or punish the press for publishing information provided by or in the court itself, even if inadvertently.” (Howard Publications v. Lake Michigan Charters; Media Counsel: Frederick Eichhorn, Jr., Hammond)