E-mail communications are treated in the same fashion as other paper records under the open records law. Ohio Rev. Code § 149.011(A) and § 149.43(A); State ex rel. Wilson-Simmons v. Lake County Sheriff’s Department, 82 Ohio St. 3d 37, 693 N.E.2d 789 (1998). This is true regardless of whether the e-mail is on a government or private account. State ex rel. Glasgow v. Jones, 119 Ohio St.3d 391 (2008) citing Wilson-Simmons, 82 Ohio St. 3d 37.

In State ex rel. Glasgow v. Jones, 119 Ohio St.3d 391 (2008), the court held a requester was not entitled to access to text messages sent by a state representative because they did “not document work-related matters” and thus were not public records. The requester, however, did receive access to e-mail messages.

In State ex rel. Toledo Blade Co. v. Seneca County Board of Commissioners, 120 Ohio St.3d 372 (2008) the Ohio Supreme Court required a county board to retrieve e-mail messages that were deleted from its system in violation of its records retention policy. The board had to pay for the cost of retrieval.

E-mail messages are subject to the same retention schedules as paper records based on their content.