Justia Communications Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Supreme Court of Ohio
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The Supreme Court granted a writ of mandamus sought by Matthew Lusane against the city of Kent police department, holding that Lusane was entitled both to the writ and to $1,000 in statutory damages.In 2022, Lusane delivered a public records request to the police department seeking all officer body cameras and cruiser dash camera video related to a certain incident. The department denied the request, stating that the videos fell under the public records disclosure exception for confidential law enforcement investigatory records. Lusane then filed this action requesting a writ of mandamus and seeking an award of statutory damages. The Supreme Court granted both the writ and awarded statutory damages, holding (1) the department improperly denied Lusane a copy of the videos; and (2) Lusane was entitled to $1,000 in statutory damages. View "State ex rel. Lusane v. Kent Police Dep't" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court granted in part and denied in part a writ of mandamus requested by Relator, an inmate at the Trumbull Correctional Institution, against Respondents, including Anthony Davis, (collectively, TCI) seeking production of records responsive to six public-records requests he sent in June 2021, holding that Relator was entitled, in part, to mandamus.By way of six messages, Relator requested four records. As to the first record, the Supreme Court denied mandamus on the ground that Relator failed to establish that Davis was the custodian of the record in question. As to the remaining three requested records, the Supreme Court held that TCI breached a statutory obligation to provide Relator with the records. The Court then awarded Relator $3,000 in statutory damages, holding that Relator satisfied the method-of-transmission requirement for an award of statutory damages. View "State ex rel. Ware v. Wine" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court held that Netflix Inc. and Hulu, LLC (together, Defendants) were not video-service providers under the Fair Competition in Cable Operations Act, Ohio Rev. Code 1332.21 (the Act) and that the Act did not expressly or impliedly give the City of Maple Heights the authority to bring a cause of action such as the one at issue in this case.The City of Maple Heights filed a federal class action and declaratory judgment lawsuit against Netflix and Hulu in federal court asserting that Defendants were in violation of the Act. Defendants moved separately to dismiss the complaint on the grounds that their streaming services did not fall within the Act. The federal court certified two state-law questions for Supreme Court review. The Court answered (1) Netflix and Hulu were not service providers under Ohio law; and (2) the Act did not grant Maple Heights either an express or an implied right to bring an action against Defendants to enforce Ohio's video service provider provisions. View "City of Maple Heights v. Netlix, Inc." on Justia Law

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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