The Indiana Civil Rights Commission, an entity dedicating to enforcing laws, has been found in violation of the Open Door Law for conducting votes behind closed doors, according to an opinion issued by a state public access counselor.
The Open Door Law requires public agencies to conduct their business openly, unless otherwise expressly provided by statute, Call 6 Investigator Kara Kenney reported.
According to an opinion issued August 6 from Indiana Public Access Counselor Luke Britt, the Indiana Civil Rights Commission violated the Open Door Law by not providing adequate notice of an executive session.
The opinion comes in response to a complaint filed by Indianapolis resident Wayne Uhl filed on July 2, who alleged ICRC commissioners take recesses to discuss cases off-the-record before voting on them.
“The transcript suggests this is a common practice of the Commissioners,” read the opinion from Britt. “The IRCC Commissioners do not have an inherent justification for holding closed door discussions about pending cases…. I do not encourage closed-door discussions (even if authorized) unless it is absolutely necessary for the protection of privacy.”
Britt said no votes or decisions are ever to be made behind closed doors as a quorum.
According to its website, the Indiana Civil Rights Commission (ICRC) enforces the civil rights laws of the State of Indiana and investigates “complaints of discrimination and educate organizations, companies, landlords, associations, and individuals on their rights and responsibilities under Indiana Civil Rights Laws.”
Brad Meadows, deputy director for external affairs for the Indiana Civil Rights Commission, told Kenney this is the first time the Public Access Counselor has issued an opinion against ICRC.
“During our last commission meeting talked about it at length to ensure a situation like this doesn’t happen again,” said Meadows. “We don‘t foresee this happening again. We’re working with the Public Access Counselor and the party to ensure we are as transparent as possible.”
Britt’s opinion acknowledged that ICRC had taken steps to correct the problem.
Kenney was unable to reach Uhl for comment on the ruling.