Media Contact

January 12, 2024

U.S. District Court Judge Damon Leichty, of the Northern District of Indiana, today ruled against the ACLU of Indiana in its case arguing that Indiana’s new 25-foot “encroachment” law violates citizen-journalists’ constitutional right to observe and record the police.

This new law, which went into effect on July 1, 2023, prohibits a person from knowingly and intentionally approaching within 25 feet of a law enforcement officer after the officer has ordered the person to stop.

The ACLU of Indiana filed a lawsuit in August 2023 on behalf of Donald Nicodemus, a citizen journalist who lives in South Bend, Indiana, and monitors the activity of public-safety personnel, primarily the South Bend Police. South Bend police enforced the new law against Nicodemus to prevent him from getting close enough to observe and record their activities.

“We’re obviously disappointed in this decision, as we believe this new law gives unbridled discretion to law enforcement officers and invites content and viewpoint-based discrimination,” said Ken Falk, legal director at the ACLU of Indiana. “With this ruling, police officers will continue to have unchecked authority to prohibit citizens from approaching within 25 feet of the officers to observe their actions, even if the actions of the citizens are not and will not interfere with the police.”

An appeal of the decision is planned.