Justia Communications Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Supreme Court of Ohio
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The Supreme Court denied Kimani Ware's request for a writ of mandamus to compel the production of records in response to his eight public-records requests, denied Ware's request for an in camera inspection of the records, and denied statutory damages, holding that Ware was not entitled to a writ of mandamus as to the public-records requests.Specifically, the Supreme Court held (1) Ware was not entitled to a writ of mandamus as to requested docket sheets and grand jury reports; (2) because the clerk's office offered to make the remaining public records requested by Ware available and identified the cost for copying them, Ware was not entitled to a writ of mandamus as to those public-records requests; (3) an inspection of the records was unnecessary, and therefore, Ware's request for an in camera inspection was unnecessary; and (4) Ware was not entitled to statutory damages. View "State ex rel. Ware v. Giavasis" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the court of appeals denying Appellant's request for a writ of mandamus against Governor Mike DeWine, holding that Appellant failed to establish by clear and convincing evidence a clear legal right to the requested relief and a clear legal duty on the part of the Governor to provide it.Appellant, an inmate, sent a public-records request to the Governor requesting certain documents. Appellant later filed this action seeking a writ of mandamus to compel the production of the documents. The court of appeals denied the writ of mandamus. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that where the evidence showed that the Govenor's office satisfied its duty to make the records available by sending them to the correctional institution at which Appellant was an inmate, Appellant was not entitled to his requested relief. View "State ex rel. Ware v. DeWine" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court denied the writ of mandamus sought by Relator, an inmate at the Toledo Correction Institution, ordering the production of shift rosters that show the duty assignments of correctional officers within the prison, holding that the shift rosters are security records exempt from disclosure under the Public Records Act.Respondent, the public-records custodian at TCI, withheld the requested records from Relator on the basis that they were "security records" exempt from public-records disclosure under Ohio Rev. Code 149.433(A) and (B). Relator then filed this action seeking a writ of mandamus ordering Respondent to produce the requested records. The Supreme Court denied the writ, holding that the shift rosters are security records exempt from public records disclosure under section 149.433(A) and (B). View "State ex rel. Burfitt v. Sehlmeyer" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court granted in part and denied in part Jerone McDougald's writ of mandamus to compel Larry Greene to provide documents in response to McDougald's public-records request, holding that McDougald was entitled to a writ of mandamus compelling Greene to allow him personally to inspect two of the three records he sought.McDougald, an inmate at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility (SOCF), sent a public-records request to Greene, the records custodian at SOCF, requesting to inspect three records. When Greene did not allow the inspection, McDougald filed the present complaint for a writ of mandamus. Also pending was McDougald's motion to consider the exhibits attached to his complaint as substantive evidence and his two motions for leave to amend. The Supreme Court granted the motion to consider evidence, granted in part and denied in part the writ of mandamus, and denied McDougald's request for an award of statutory damages, holding (1) McDougald was entitled to a writ of mandamus with respect to his request for two of the three records he requested; and (2) McDougald was not entitled to statutory damages. View "State ex rel. McDougald v. Greene" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court denied Relator's requested writ of mandamus seeking to compel Respondent to produce a document pursuant to a public records request and to pay statutory damages and court costs, holding that Respondent provided a complete response to Relator's public records request.In addition to Relator's mandamus petition and request for damages and court costs, Relator filed unopposed motions seeking leave to amend his complaint and leave to submit additional facts. The Supreme Court denied the writ, both motions, and the requests for statutory damages and court costs, holding (1) Relator did not show that Respondent failed to fulfill any of her obligations as a public-records custodian; (2) Defendant was not entitled to an award of court costs or statutory damages; and (3) both motions for leave are denied. View "State ex rel. McDougald v. Sehlmeyer" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court denied Jerone McDougald's motion for mediation and his request for a writ of mandamus seeking to compel Sonrisa Sehlmeyer, the administrative assistant to the warden at the Toledo Correctional Institution, to produce documents pursuant to a public-records request, holding that McDougald did not demonstrate that he had a clear legal right to the requested relief and that Sehlmeyer had a clear legal duty to provide that relief.Sehlmeyer responded to McDougald's public-records request with a notation indicating the number of pages of each requested record and the total amount required for the request. McDougald did not follow up with a cash slip or indication that he was still seeking to inspect the documents. Rather, McDougald filed the present complaint seeking a writ of mandamus and requesting an award of statutory damages and court costs. McDougald also filed a motion asking to submit this case to mediation. The Supreme Court denied all requests, holding that where the institution offered to make the records available, McDougald was not entitled to his requested relief. View "State ex rel. McDougald v. Sehlmeyer" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the court of appeals granting summary judgment in favor of Louis Giavasis, the Stark County Clerk of Courts, on Appellant's complaint for a writ of mandamus to compel the production of public records, holding that the court of appeals correctly concluded that Appellant's mandamus claim failed as a matter of law.Appellant filed a mandamus complaint seeking to compel Giavasis to provide records he had requested. The court of appeals granted summary judgment for Giavasis, noting that Giavasis had satisfied Appellant's first request and that, as to Appellant's second request, Appellant failed to comply with Ohio Rev. Code 149.43(B)(8). The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Appellant's mandamus claim failed as a matter of law. View "State ex rel. Ware v. Giavasis" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court dismissed as moot Victoria Ullmann's mandamus complaint seeking to compel Respondent, Columbus City Attorney Zach Klein, to comply with two public-records requests, granted Ullmann's motion for statutory damages, and denied her request for attorneys fees, holding that Ullmann was entitled to statutory damages because Klein failed timely to produce records responsive to Ullmann's public-records requests.At issue before the Supreme Court in Ullmann's mandamus action was whether Klein failed to respond to her public-records requests. In her merit brief, Ullmann stated that she had "finally gotten lots of the documents" she requested from Klein. The Supreme Court dismissed Ullmann's complaint against Klein as moot, holding that because Ullmann failed to identify what public records responsive to her requests remained undisclosed or show that the documents provided were unlawfully redacted, Ullmann was not entitled to a writ of mandamus. The Court further granted Ullmann an award of statutory damages in the amount of $1,000, denied her request for attorney fees, and denied her motions for in camera review of redacted documents Klein provided her and for oral argument. View "State ex rel. Ullmann v. Klein" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the court of appeals granting the writ of mandamus sought by Appellant concerning certain public records Appellant had requested but denied the writ concerning others, holding that because Appellant did not comply with Ohio Rev. Code 149.43(B)(8) Cleveland Police Forensic Laboratory (CPFL) had no clear legal duty to produce the records identified in the first part of Appellant's request.The court of appeals denied the writ as to the first part of Appellant's request, determining that Appellant had not obtained court approval before requesting public records concerning a criminal investigation or prosecution, as he was required to do under Ohio Rev. Code 149.43(B)(8). The court noted that section 149.43(B) did not apply to the second part of Appellant's request, which did not seek records concerning a criminal investigation or prosecution. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that because Appellant did not obtain court approval as required by section 149.43(B)(8), the court of appeals properly denied the first part of his request. View "State ex rel. Ellis v. Cleveland Police Forensic Laboratory" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court denied the Cincinnati Enquirer's request for a writ of mandamus but granted an award of attorney fees and court costs, holding that the City of Cincinnati's redactions to body-camera footage were proper but that the Enquirer was entitled to reasonable attorney fees and court costs.The Enquirer requested public records, including body-camera footage taken by police officers' body cameras during the arrest of two men. The City denied the records request, and the Enquirer filed this original action for a writ of mandamus. The Supreme Court granted an alternative writ of mandamus and ordered the City to submit the body-camera videos to the court under seal. The City complied with the directive. Thereafter, the City provided the body-camera footage to the Enquirer but redacted the videos to obscure the faces of plainclothes officers who appeared in the footage. The Supreme Court concluded that the Enquirer was not entitled to a writ of mandamus because the City provided the requested videos and because the redactions were proper. However, the Court granted the Enquirer's request for reasonable attorney fees and costs. View "State ex rel. Cincinnati Enquirer v. Cincinnati" on Justia Law