A Fort Wayne television station is challenging a Huntington Circuit judge’s order in the denial of public access to an official court recording related to the sentencing of a local doctor. Bingham Greenebaum Doll LLP attorneys Margaret Christensen and Jessica Whelan are representing the station and hope that the case will ensure reporters will have access to court recordings and are able to broadcast them.

The Fort Wayne station, WPTA, requested a copy of a recorded victim impact statement at the sentencing hearing for a felony sexual battery case against local Fort Wayne doctor, Dr. John Matthew. The trial court issued an order releasing the recording but prohibiting the station from broadcasting it.

In support of the order limiting public dissemination of the recording, Circuit Judge Thomas Hakes cited Judicial Conduct Rule 2.17, which prohibits recording, broadcasting or taking photographs in the courtroom during court, except with prior approval of the Indiana Supreme Court. WPTA’s position is that Rule 2.17 prohibits only in courtroom recordings by third parties, not dissemination of previously recorded courtroom proceedings.

WPTA has now filed an appeal with the Indiana Court of Appeals challenging whether the court may limit the use and dissemination of a publicly available court record without complying with Administrative Rule 9 and whether broadcasting the record after the conclusion a criminal proceeding violates Judicial Conduct Rule 2.17