Criminal Justice Update
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Criminal Justice Update

In the Courts

The Ohio Supreme Court issued a decision Sept. 3 in State Ex. Rel. Miller v. Ohio State Highway Patrol, et. al., which deals with a public records request.

In Ohio, the public may request records kept by any public office. Members of the public have a right to inspect or copy those records unless the records fall under an exception. If a public office fails to disclose records that are not excludable, it may be penalized.
In this case, Mark Miller made a public records request to the Ohio State Highway Patrol (OSHP) seeking records related to traffic incidents involving a particular trooper. OSHP provided records, but Miller claimed it withheld video recordings, audio recordings, and reports involving a specific traffic stop. OSHP said it withheld this information because it involved an open or pending criminal case and therefore was an investigatory work product. Miller argued that the records did not fall under this exception.
The Ohio Supreme Court sent the case back to the lower court, finding that OSHP had failed to explain how the withheld material fell under the confidential law enforcement investigatory record exception.
A confidential law enforcement investigatory record is considered to be any record that pertains to a law enforcement matter, the release of which would create a high probability of disclosing specific, confidential investigatory techniques, procedures, or work product. Specific investigatory work product can be personal notes, paperwork, or memos used in connection with a criminal proceeding. However, it would not include routine offense and incident reports or 911 recordings associated with the crime.
For more information: The Ohio Sunshine Law Manual, produced by the Ohio Attorney General’s Office, is a good resource for information about Ohio public records law. That and a list of trainings provided by the office can be found at