Articles Posted in Communications 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

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A reporter from The Cincinnati Enquirer submitted a public records request to the Butler County Sheriff’s Office for an outgoing phone call placed by a Butler County 9-1-1 dispatcher. The County denied the request, claiming that the return call was both a trial preparation record and a confidential law enforcement investigatory record and, thus, was exempt from the public records laws. The Enquirer sought a writ of mandamus ordering the County to release the recording. The County subsequently released the recording. Judge Sage and the County then filed a motion to dismiss the Enquirer’s mandamus complaint as moot. The court of appeals overruled the motion, granted the writ of mandamus, and awarded statutory damages. The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part, holding (1) the outgoing 9-1-1 call was a public record and was not exempt from release, and therefore, the Enquirer was entitled to a writ of mandamus ordering release of the record; and (2) the court of appeals did not abuse its discretion in awarding statutory damages but did abuse its discretion in not awarding attorney fees. View "State ex rel. Cincinnati Enquirer v. Sage" on Justia Law