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Records are public, even when in private hands

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  1. Freedom of Information

    NMU         OHIO         Freedom of Information         Dec 20, 2000    

Records are public, even when in private hands

  • An Ohio court finds that communications with a county held by a private company are public records.

An Ohio appeals court has interpreted the state open records law to allow a newspaper access to records of a publicly financed football stadium in Cincinnati, even though the records were held by private construction companies.

The Cincinnati Enquirer asked the court to order three construction companies to hand over records of communications with Hamilton County officials about the cost over-runs and construction schedules of Paul Brown Stadium. On Dec. 15, after examining the public records law, the appeals court concluded that the records were public even though private companies had physical possession of the documents.

The Ohio public records law defines a record to include documents “coming under the jurisdiction of any public office of the state or its political subdivisions, which serves to document the organization, function, policies, decisions, procedures, operations, or other activities of the office.” This provision, the court wrote, covers documents even if they are not in the possession of the public body that created them.

(Ohio Ex Rel. the Cincinnati Enquirer v. David Krings; Media Counsel: John Greiner, John Flanagan, and R. Kenneth Wellington II) CC

© 2000 The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press

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