Justia Communications Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Supreme Court of Ohio
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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the court of appeals dismissing Appellant's petition for a writ of mandamus against Baker, Dublikar, Beck, Wiley & Mathews (the Baker firm), Public Entity Risk Services of Ohio (PERSO), and the Ohio Township Association Risk Management Authority (OTARMA) seeking to obtain unreacted copies of invoices that the Baker firm had prepared for PERSO, holding that the court of appeals did not properly apply the standard of review in dismissing Appellant's petition.Appellant brought this action under Ohio's Public Records Act, Ohio Rev. Code 149.43, seeking a writ of mandamus ordering Appellees to produce unreacted copies of the requested records. The court of appeals determined that Appellees were subject to the Act despite their private-party status but dismissed the petition on the ground that the records were protected by the attorney-client privilege. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) PERSO was not immune from suit; and (2) the court of appeals department from the Civ.R. 12(B)(6) standard. View "State ex rel. Ames v. Dublikar, Beck, Wiley & Mathews" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the court of appeals denying a writ of mandamus compelling the city of Cleveland to disclose use-of-force (UOF) reports on the grounds that UOF reports are exempt from disclosure under the Public Records Act, Ohio Rev. Code 149.43, as confidential law-enforcement investigatory records (CLEIR), holding that the court of appeals erred.UOF reports are prepared whenever a Cleveland police officer uses force in the course of the officer's duties. Appellants brought this mandamus action against Cleveland seeking disclosure of the reports. The court of appeals denied the requested writ, holding that the reports were exempt as CLEIR. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that Cleveland did not meet its burden to prove that the exception at issue applied to the specific information contained in the reports. View "State ex rel. Standifer v. Cleveland" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court granted in part writs of mandamus and prohibition against Ronald P. Forsthoefel, a judge on the Ashland County Common Pleas Court, barring Judge Forsthoefel from enforcing his order sealing the documents filed in an underlying dissolution case and ordering him to vacate his sealing order and to conduct a proper review of the documents.The Cincinnati Enquirer requested a writ of mandamus ordering Judge Forsthoefel to vacate his order sealing documents in the dissolution case and to permit public access to the documents and also sought a writ of prohibition barring the judge from enforcing his sealing order. The Supreme Court granted the requested writs in part, holding (1) the Enquirer was entitled to a writ of mandamus ordering Judge Forsthoefel to vacate his sealing order and to conduct a proper review of the documents subject to the sealing order; and (2) the Enquirer was entitled to a writ of prohibition because it had shown entitlement to a writ of mandamus. View "State ex rel. Cincinnati Enquirer v. Forsthoefel" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the court of appeals granting a writ of mandamus compelling East Cleveland Mayor Brandon King and the East Cleveland mayor and finance director (collectively, Appellants) to produce documents in response to a public-records request but reversing the court of appeals' judgment granting an award of attorney fees, holding that the writ was properly granted.In this mandamus action, the court of appeals denied two of Appellee's claims for relief but granted a third issuing a writ of mandamus directing Appellants to produce certain documents. In a subsequent order, the court of appeals ordered Appellants to pay attorney fees. The Supreme Court reversed in part, holding that the court of appeals (1) properly granted a writ of mandamus for the production of public records; but (2) improperly granted the award of attorney fees. View "State ex rel. Stevenson v. King" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court denied a writ of mandamus sought by Relator, a prison inmate, in this original action seeking to compel the warden of the Mansfield Correctional Institution to provide copies of electronic kites between Relator and a prison staff member, holding that the mandamus claim was moot.Relator submitted a request that the warden produce the subject kites under Ohio's Public Records Act, Ohio Rev. Code 149.43. When Relator did not immediately receive the requested documents he filed his writ of mandamus. Thereafter, the warden submitted all records responsive to Relator's request. The Supreme Court denied the writ of mandamus as moot but awarded statutory damages in the amount of $900, holding that because the warden did not timely comply with his obligations Relator was entitled to $900 in statutory damages. View "State ex rel. Suggs v. McConahay" on Justia Law

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In consolidated actions, the Supreme Court of Ohio held that an offense-and-incident report, which initiates a police investigation and is a public record under Ohio’s Public Records Act, R.C. 149.43, is not limited to the form that police officers fill out in order to report the incident but also includes certain contemporaneous reports created by the investigating officers that document the officers’ observations and the statements of witnesses at the scene. The court ordered Chillicothe to disclose a limited number “supplement narratives” that the city had withheld when Myers had requested the public-record incident reports. The court concluded that other supplement narratives constitute confidential law-enforcement investigatory records, “investigatory work product,” under R.C. 149.43(A)(2)(c). The most important factor is timing; the initial observations by officers and the initial witness statements taken at the physical location close to the time that the incident occurred constitute incident information that may not be regarded as specific investigatory work product, even when the information has not been incorporated into the incident-report form. View "Myers v. Meyers" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court granted some, but not all, of Relator's requested relief in his petition for a writ of mandamus ordering Donna Crawford, an inspector with the Trumbull Correctional Institution's office of institutional services, to produce public records that Relator had requested, holding that Relator was entitled to some of his requested relief.Relator, an inmate, sent public-records requests to Crawford, the prison's custodial of inmate-grievance records. Crawford sent some, but not all, of the requested documents. Relator then brought this action seeking a writ of mandamus and an award of statutory damages under Ohio Rev. Code 149.43(C)(2). The Supreme Court partially granted relief and awarded Relator $1,000 in statutory damages for Crawford's failure to respond fully to one request, holding that Relator met his burden to plead and prove facts showing that he requested a public record and that Crawford did not make the record available. View "State ex rel. Ware v. Crawford" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court denied Relator's request seeking a writ of mandamus ordering the public-records officer for the Ohio Adult Parole Authority (APA) to produce records that Relator claimed to have requested under Ohio's Public Records Act, Ohio Rev. Code 149.43, holding that Relator was not entitled to the writ.In his mandamus action, Relator alleged that he sent a public-records request to the APA's public-records officer seeking public records from the personnel files of six Ohio Parole Board members who were members of the panel for Relator's parole hearing and that the officer had not responded to his request. The Supreme Court denied mandamus relief, holding that because Relator failed to provide evidence to demonstrate that he delivered the alleged public-records request to the APA at all, Relator was not entitled to relief in mandamus. View "State ex rel. Griffin v. Doe" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the court of appeals dismissing Appellant's mandamus petition against Judge Steven Beathard as moot on the ground that Judge Beathard had already performed the requested act, holding that the court of appeals properly dismissed this action as moot.While incarcerated, Appellant filed a mandamus action seeking an order directing Judge Beathard to provide him with a free copy of the transcript from his criminal trial. Appellant subsequently received a copy of the transcript. The court of appeals dismissed Appellant's petition in mandamus as moot based on his admitted receipt of the trial transcript. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the court of appeals did not err in dismissing this case as moot. View "State ex rel. Davidson v. Beathard" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the court of appeals dismissing Appellant's complaint for a writ of mandamus to compel the production of public records, holding that the court of appeals did not err.Appellant, an inmate, sent a public-records request to Julie Loomis, who provided some, but not all, of the requested records. Appellant filed an original action seeking to compel Loomis to make the remaining requested records available for his inspection. On remand, the court of appeals dismissed the complaint based on Appellant's failure to strictly comply with the mandatory requirements of Ohio Rev. Code 2969.25(A). The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) Appellant was required to comply with the requirements of section 2969.25(A); and (2) the court of appeals did not err by not converting Loomis's motion to dismiss into a motion for summary judgment. View "State ex rel. Bey v. Loomis" on Justia Law