Burlington Times-News: Public records debate continues after court rejects lawsuit
From the Burlington Times-News (6/8/12): A former Elon University student, now a television reporter in Texas, is considering options after a failed appeal of a lawsuit against the school and N.C. Attorney Gen. Roy Cooper.
The N.C. Court of Appeals ruled this week campus police departments at private schools such as Elon do not have to make records available to the public. The ruling supported a trial court’s previous decision that campus police are exempt from public records law. The decision was unanimous.
Then a senior at Elon and a reporter for its student TV news program, Nick Ochsner sued the school in 2011. The lawsuit alleged he received less information than required by state law about the arrest of another Elon student. It said Ochsner received “minimal information” rather than the detailed narrative requested. Ochsner said the campus police department, though operating at a private school, was required to follow public records law because the state defines as public “all law enforcement agencies commissioned by the state attorney general,” which the lawsuit said includes police at private as well as public schools.
The lawsuit named Cooper as a defendant as the “legal custodian of campus police records” under state law.