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Adviser to keep government transparent


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A former Greenwood attorney and Franklin College graduate will review cases and make decisions about whether governments have violated public access laws.

Luke Britt will take over as the state public access counselor on Monday. When governments decide to withhold documents or close meetings to the public, Britt can be asked to review the case and determine whether officials were following the law. He can also help local government officials learn the laws of what is considered public information.

The position focuses on keeping government transparent, Britt said.

 

Britt graduated from Franklin College with a degree in journalism before he attended law school, so he understands the need for an open government better than other attorneys, he said.

“I’m trained in journalism, so I certainly appreciate the need for transparency and disclosure,” he said.

As public access counselor, Britt’s goal is to hold government accountable and remain objective when making decisions on whether government officials had the right to withhold information.

Britt worked as a litigation attorney with the Indiana State Department of Health and the Indiana Department of Child Services for the past six years and had to decide whether or not to disclose information.

The topic of transparency interested him as a journalism student, he said, but as a government employee, he saw that some information needs to be withheld.

Some information must be kept private so government can operate effectively, he said. At the same time, the public needs to know what elected officials are doing. The public access counselor job interested Britt because he will weigh these two sometimes opposing interests.

“That’s why public access laws exist, to balance those interests and to make sure the public is represented and that the government can run efficiently,” he said.

After graduating from Franklin College in 2002, Britt attained his law degree from the University of Detroit Mercy School of Law in 2005. He worked in Greenwood at the law firm of R. Lee Money as a law clerk and associate attorney until 2007.

Britt grew up in Johnson County and graduated from Center Grove High School in 1998. He now lives in Indianapolis.

Britt will take over the public access counselor position for Joe Hoage, who will become the chief legal counsel for the Indiana Department of Natural Resources. Hoage also is a Franklin College graduate.

Another Franklin grad, Heather Willis Neal, also served as access counselor.

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