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More Clarification on Public Record Requests by the Ohio Supreme Court

In the case of State ex rel. Howard v. Watson, Slip Opinion No. 2023-Ohio-3399, the Ohio Supreme Court held the public office failed to provide specific factual support as to why the requested records could not be provided as public records.

In this case, the inmate filed a mandamus action after a prison failed to produce camera footage, photographs, theft loss report, prison policies, and informal inmate complaints, in response to the inmate’s public record request.  In response, the warden’s assistant argued that while responding to several of the requests, the remaining requests were not subject to the public records law, namely (1) camera footage, (2) copies of documents the inmate already received, and (3) reports which constituted confidential law enforcement investigatory record. The Ohio Supreme Court agreed with the inmate.

In support of its decision in favor of the inmate, the Ohio Supreme Court explained that camera footage is not categorically exempted from disclosure and the warden’s assistant did not provide any further reason why the footage should not be provided. The Ohio Supreme Court further explained that R.C. 149.43 does not prevent an individual from requesting a copy of a public record, even if that individual had previously received a copy of that record. The Ohio Supreme Court further explained that the warden’s assistant failed to provide any evidence to support the assertion that this record would fall under the confidential law enforcement investigatory record exception.

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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