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Attorney General Ordered to Comply with Discovery Requests

In the case of State ex rel. Media & Democracy Ctr. v. Atty Gen., 2023-Ohio-364, an appellate court held that the Attorney General must comply with discovery requests that were beyond the scope of public records request when those discovery requests are necessary to determine the existence of public records and that a public official can be deposed when the case has great public interest.

In this case, the Attorney General argued that (1) the documents were requested in discovery were beyond the scope of the initial public records request; (2) the burden of producing the documents would be unduly high; (3) and that the Attorney General could not be deposed. In response, the requestors argued that (1) discovery has broader limits than public record requests to determine whether the public records exist; (2) the Attorney General never raised the issue of burden in the discovery phase; and (3) public officials can be deposed if the case is a matter of great importance. The appellate court agreed with the requestors.

In support of its decision in favor of the requestors, the appellate court explained that limiting the scope of discovery to the initial public records request is an incorrect application of the law. The appellate court further explained that the appropriate time to raise a concern about the burden of discovery requests is during a briefing with the magistrate, not on appeal. The appellate court finally explained that the extent of a relationship between a public office and a private group is a matter of public importance.

To read this case, click here.

Authors: Matthew John Markling and the McGown & Markling Team.

Note: This blog entry does not constitute – nor does it contain – legal advice. Legal jurisprudence is like the always-changing Midwestern weather. As a result, this single blog entry cannot substitute for consultation with a McGown & Markling attorney. If legal advice is needed with respect to a specific factual situation, please feel free to contact a McGown & Markling attorney.

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