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Ohio newspaper wins access to officials' deleted e-mail

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  1. Freedom of Information
Ohio officials were ordered Tuesday by the state Supreme Court to search for deleted e-mail messages. The case, brought by The…

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.