INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - The Indiana Supreme Court has agreed to review a pair of
cases, one that involves a school principal’s failure to immediately pass
along a student’s report of rape and the other about expectations of privacy
for commenters on news media websites.
The court announced Monday it would review the case of former Muncie Central
High School Principal Christopher Smith. Smith was convicted last year of
failing to report child abuse after a student reported being raped, after he
and other administrators spent four hours investigating the allegation
before calling state officials.
A lower court determined Smith did not “immediately” report the allegation
as the law requires, but The Indiana Court of Appeals overturned his
conviction in January, stating that “the evidence does not show that Smith
ignored the alleged assault.”
The justices are probably looking to set some guidelines on what constitutes
“immediately” in the case of the former Muncie principal, said Joel Schumm,
clinical professor of law at Indiana University’s Robert H. McKinney School
of Law. The law has not yet been settled in state courts, he said, noting
that the Court of Appeals relied in part on rulings from other states.
“In a case where there’s not clear Indiana law, they probably want to put
their stamp on it,” he said.
The justices also will review The Indianapolis Star’s decision to protect an
online commenter’s identity.
Former Junior Achievement CEO Jeff Miller claims he was slandered in an
anonymous comment on the newspaper’s website. The Court of Appeals ruled the
Star must reveal the commenter’s identity.
The high court will probably look to clear up discrepancies with other
appellate rulings regarding when third-party vendors must disclose
information. Schumm noted he has filed a friend of the court brief in the
Like their federal counterparts, the state’s Supreme Court justices do not
typically comment on why they take cases.