Justia Communications Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Supreme Court of Ohio
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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

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The Supreme Court granted in part and denied in part the application of Charles Summers for court costs, attorney fees, and statutory damages following the Court's grant of a writ of mandamus ordering Respondents to produce documents to Summers, holding that Summers was entitled to an award of court costs.This case concerned Summers's request for public records relating to his son's criminal case. Summers sent the requests to Respondents - Mercer County Prosecuting Attorney Matthew Fox and Mercer County Sheriff Jeff Grey. When court-ordered mediation resulted in Summers receiving some, but not all, of the documents that he had requested the Supreme Court granted his writ of mandamus in part and denied it in part. Summers then filed his petition for an award of court costs, statutory damages, and attorney fees. The Supreme Court held (1) Summers was entitled to court costs; (2) Summers's status as the prevailing party in his mandamus action did not entitle him to an award of attorney fees, nor was he entitled to an award of bad-faith attorney fees; and (3) Summers was not entitled to an award of statutory damages. View "State ex rel. Summers v. Fox" on Justia Law

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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