Pendulum: NC Supreme Court votes 3-3 in Ochsner case
From The Pendulum (3/8/13): The North Carolina Supreme Court voted 3-3 today on a North Carolina Court of Appeals ruling that North Carolina Public Records Law is not applicable to state-commissioned police departments of private universities within the state. The tied vote leaves the appellate court ruling undisturbed.
The June 2012 appellate court ruling upheld and extended a decision of the Durham County Superior Court to dismiss a complaint filed in April 2011 by former Elon University student Nick Ochsner. In his complaint, Ochsner argued the Elon Campus Safety and Police Department violated the North Carolina Public Records Law by refusing to provide documents related to a fellow student’s arrest.
Although the appellate court ruling was upheld in the Supreme Court, it stands without precedential value. Ochsner said he considers this a glimmer of hope in a disappointing outcome.
“This is not the direction I thought the court would go, not with the energy I’ve felt behind the case regarding open government and open access,” he said. “However, this decision comes with a silver lining. Basically, no one wins. Elon doesn’t have to give me anything else, but the Court of Appeals decision does not set a precedent.”