This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2017, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
A state court judge on Friday denied a motion to dismiss a lawsuit filed by The Salt Lake Tribune that seeks to force the police at Brigham Young University to hand over emails. BYU has argued the police force is not a government agency for the purposes of Utah's records law.
The issue involves how BYU has treated students who claim they were victims of sexual assault. The Tribune is seeking to force a hearing with the State Records Committee over records held by BYU police.
Tribune reporter Matthew Piper wants to see emails between BYU police and the university's Honor Code and Title IX offices. Before Piper can go before the records committee, the lawsuit still must be resolved either through further trial court proceedings or an appeal by the records committee or BYU.
The ruling from 3rd District Judge Laura Scott applies only to those records in the possession of the BYU Police Department. Other departments of the university, which is owned by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, would not be subject to public record requests.
A representative of BYU did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Tribune attorney Michael O'Brien called Scott's opinion thoughtful.
"The judge is right," O'Brien said in a statement, "It makes no sense to allow BYUPD to exercise police power and yet not be subject to one of the primary methods of ensuring accountability to those exercising a public function GRAMA. This is an important decision for transparency and open government."