All Hoosiers should have easy access to government notices.
Unfortunately, not all public officials feel the same way.
On July 12, the Indiana Supreme Court proposed a rule change (Trial Rule 4.13) to eliminate the requirement for public notices to be published in local newspapers.
Instead of requiring the notices to print, the proposal would allow the announcements to just be posted on a government website.
These notices include important information such as sheriff’s sales, estate administration, summons/notice of lawsuits and change of name notices.
The proposal is objectively bad for all three parties involved: The general public, judiciary and newspapers.
Court-required notices are important to our democracy because they provide due process to Americans who will be impacted by government actions. They help provide transparency, which is something the judiciary also benefits from as they derive power through public support.
Most Hoosiers have never visited the Indiana Supreme Court’s website, and wouldn’t know where to go to find the information they need.
Legal notices published in this local newspaper are already available online. Notices published locally and available online locally also are uploaded to a statewide website hosted by the Hoosier State Press Association.
The newspaper website is arguably the most visited website in the county since content changes daily, as opposed to static websites.
Placing these notices on a little used, unknown website is another blow to transparency that should not be allowed to happen.
In addition, not all Hoosiers have access to the internet. Most Hoosiers do, however, have the ability to subscribe to a newspaper or at least read it at their local library.
For years, the public has relied on newspapers to publish these notices.
So why change now? The court should be looking for additional ways to expand the reach of public notices and not limit them.
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, newspapers have proven again how vital they are to keeping the public informed. Newspapers, including The Tribune, benefit financially from public notices and use the funds to help continue to do impactful community journalism.
The court is taking comments on the proposed change until Aug. 10. Let them know that you stand for all Hoosiers when you say the proposal would cause much more harm than good.
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The deadline for submission of comments is 1 p.m. on Aug. 10. To make a comment, and read the full list of proposed changes, visit https://www.in.gov/courts/publications/proposed-rules/july-2021/. Comments can also be mailed to Jennifer Bauer, Indiana Office of Court Services, 251 N. Illinois St., Suite 800, Indianapolis, 46204.