Ohio officials were ordered Tuesday by the state Supreme Court to search for deleted e-mail messages.
The case, brought by The Toledo Blade, involved an open records law request for e-mail sent by Seneca County commissioners regarding the demolition of a historic courthouse.
The county gave the newspaper some messages, but the Blade sought copies of other e-mail that had been deleted.
Justice Paul Pfeifer wrote in the opinion, “Insofar as the e-mails still exist on the commissioners’ computers, they remain public records, and the board has a duty to organize and maintain them in a manner in which they can be made available for inspection and copying.”
The court ordered the county to pay the cost of recovering the e-mail, in part because it had been wrong to delete them in the first place.
However, the court refused to order the county to pay the newspaper’s attorneys fees in the case.