Articles Posted in Supreme Court of Ohio

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the Fourth District Court of Appeals denying the request for a writ of mandamus sought by the Cincinnati Enquirer and granted a writ of mandamus, holding that the Enquirer was entitled to review certain documents in the custody of the coroner’s office. An Enquirer reporter made a request to view preliminary autopsy and investigative notes and findings relating to the homicides of eight individuals in Pike County. The Pike County prosecuting attorney and Pike County’s medical examiner and coroner denied the request to review the records. The Enquirer then filed a complaint for a writ of mandamus asking the court of appeals to order the respondents to make the records available. The court of appeals denied the request, concluding that the autopsy reports were properly withheld because they constituted confidential law-enforcement investigatory records of the eight decedents and, therefore, were not subject to the journalist exception in Ohio Rev. Code 313.10(D), which provides that journalists be given access to review the preliminary autopsy reports of a county coroner. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the court of appeals disregarded the plain language of section 313.10(D) in denying the Enquirer’s request for a writ of mandamus. View "State ex rel. Cincinnati Enquirer v. Pike County General Health District" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court denied the request of Relators - Cincinnati Enquirer and Columbus Dispatch - for a writ of mandamus seeking to compel the release of unreacted reports on the autopsies of eight members of the Rhoden and Gilley families, who were murdered in Pike County in 2016. The court also denied the Enquirer’s motion for oral argument and the Dispatch’s motion to compel access to unreacted autopsy reports filed under seal with the Supreme Court. The Enquirer filed this original action against the Pike County Coroner’ Office seeking a writ of mandamus to compel release of the final autopsy reports regarding the eight decedents. The Dispatch filed a separate original action in this court seeking the same relief. Redacted copies of the eight final autopsy reports were subsequently released. The Supreme Court subsequently permitted the unreacted autopsy reports to be filed under seal. The Supreme Court denied the Enquirer’s and the Dispatch’s motions and the requested writ of mandamus, holding that autopsy reports qualify as confidential law enforcement investigatory records (CLEIR), and therefore, the information is exempt from public disclosure pursuant to the CLEIR exception while the investigation into the murders is ongoing. View "State ex rel. Cincinnati Enquirer v. Pike County Coroner's Office" on Justia Law

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Relators filed this original action in mandamus seeking the release of video from a camera worn by an officer who shot a motorist after a traffic stop. Relators asserted that Respondent, the prosecuting attorney, violated the Public Records Act by failing either to make the body-camera video available for inspection and copying or to prove that it was exempt from disclosure. The prosecutor released the video two days after the complaint was filed. The Supreme Court dismissed the writ of mandamus as to certain relators because the relators failed to request the record from the prosecutor’s office and denied the writ as to other relators because the body-camera video had already been produced. Because the video was produced within a reasonable amount of time, the request for statutory damages and attorney fees was also denied. View "State ex rel. Cincinnati Enquirer v. Deters" on Justia Law

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The Cincinnati Enquirer requested the disclosure of recordings from cameras mounted on the dashboards of two Ohio State Highway Patrol (OSHP) cars. The OSHP denied the request in its entirety. The Enquirer subsequently filed this mandamus action alleging that the OSHP and Ohio Department of Public Safety (ODPS) violated the Ohio Public Records Act by refusing to release the recordings. Thereafter, ODPS provided copies of the recordings to the Enquirer. The Supreme Court held (1) subject to redaction, the Enquirer had a clear legal right to the requested records and that the defendants had a clear legal duty to provide the records; and (2) the Enquirer was not entitled to attorney fees, statutory damages, or court costs. View "State ex rel. Cincinnati Enquirer v. Ohio Department of Public Safety" on Justia Law