Access to Public Records
Our goal is to make the most commonly requested public records available on the county website. Most other non-confidential records are available for public inspection at the county offices.
If you are seeking a record that is not on line and is not routinely available for public inspection at the courthouse, you may make a formal public records request. Here are guidelines for an effective request:
Be polite. This isn't required, but it may be the most useful tip on this list.
Address the request to the elected official or department head of the office responsible for maintaining the records you seek. You may find the contact information for each department head in our Office directory.
If you do not know which office maintains the record that you seek, the Auditor's Office is a good place to start. The Auditor is responsible for most financial records and maintains contracts & minutes for many offices, including County Council and the Board of Commissioners.
Make your request as specific and clear as possible to assure a positive response. Indiana's public access law allows public officials to reject overly broad or vague requests such as "give me your records", but a specific request such as "Please provide me with a copy of the contract with Acme Anvils executed by the Commissioners in May of 2009." is clear and cannot be reasonably denied.
If you are unsure of how to ask for a record, check out the Indiana Public Access Counselor's web site for sample request letters and other helpful advice.
Don't expect public officials to do extensive research on your behalf, especially if your request is for records that you'll be using in your own business endeavors. County officials work for all taxpayers, and can't reasonably be expected to spend a large amount of time focusing on one individual. In most cases, requests involving significant research will result in an invitation to come to the courthouse, where you will be allowed to examine the records on your own time.
Be prepared to pay for the cost of reproducing the records.
If you don't get a response in a reasonable length of time, contact the Indiana Public Access Counselor for help. This State official is charged with enforcing public access laws and acting as your advocate if any government official fails to provide adequate access to public records.
Indiana's rules on public access may be found in Title 5, Article 14 of the Indiana Statutes.