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Private Mailroom Clerks and Prisons May Not Be Public Officers or Offices For Public Record Purposes

In the case of State ex rel. Spivey v. Lauger, 2023-Ohio-888, an appellate court held that neither a private mailroom clerk nor private prison were either a public officer or public office pursuant to R.C. 149.43.

In this case, a public record requester argued that (1) the private mailroom clerk and prison were functional public officials and offices because of the contract with the State of Ohio and the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections (“ODRC”) and (2) the private clerk and prison were responsible for records. In response, the private mailroom clerk and prison argued that they (1) were neither a public officer nor public office, (2) were not the custodian of records, and (3) the ODRC was the actual public office responsible for the records. The appellate court agreed with private mailroom clerk and prison.

In support of its decision in favor of the private mailroom clerk and prison, the appellate court explained that the private mailroom clerk was not “an individual with access to or the official capacity to gather the alleged records.” 2023-Ohio-888 at ¶ 14. The appellate court further explained that the requester did not provide any evidence to suggest the private prison was the custodian of the records.

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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