How an Ohio judge’s ruling threatens journalists’ ability to cover the court system

An attorney has a civil case that’s about to go to trial. He contacts a friend of his, the editor of a local publication, to encourage coverage of the case. The attorney shares public court records and information about the court schedule. The case is newsworthy, and on the eve of trial the editor’s publication runs a story that outlines the claims of the attorney’s clients.


Ensure access to public records

The good news for Ohioans is that public officials seem to be following the state's open records law much better than was the case several years ago.

But the bad news is that sometimes, Buckeye State residents still are refused access to documents. That is unacceptable.

Journalists fanned out throughout Ohio this spring, in an open records "audit" conducted through the state Coalition for Open Government. Public officials were asked in all 88 counties to provide documents and information covered under the state open records law.


ONA: Open records ruling a major setback

Two Ohio Supreme Court decisions denying attorney fees to a woman who fought the city of South Euclid for public records represent major setbacks to the cause of open government in Ohio, according to the Ohio Newspaper Association.

“This is an egregious case,” said Dennis Hetzel, executive director of the ONA. “The city stonewalled the citizen requesting the information for months, and she even had to get an accountant to show that records the city claimed it didn’t have really existed.”


Court rules attorney fees not mandatory

Open-government advocates are disturbed by a public-records ruling handed down by the Ohio Supreme Court last week.

The justices voted 6-1 to uphold a ruling against a South Euclid woman who was denied recovery of attorney fees in a case where the city did not turn over records she had sought until she went to court.


ONA completes thorough revise of ‘Public Notice FAQ’

From Dennis Hetzel, president of Ohio Coalition for Open Government:  As most of you know, major revisions happened to Ohio’s laws involving public notices in 2011, and we still get a lot of member questions. This is a subject that never goes away, and that makes sense.

First of all, there is a reason why the word “public” is in public notices.


OCOG to support Enquirer in major open government cases

From Ohio Newspaper Association:   The board of the Ohio Coalition for Open Government has voted to support appeals in two Cincinnati-area cases involving Enquirer Media.

One case involves access to 911 calls and the other involves a Hamilton County juvenile court judge who was found in contempt after barring a reporter from her courtroom and attempting to ban publication or broadcast of the alleged offenders’ name.


Ohio Coalition for Open Government is on the move

From Dennis Hetzel, executive director of the Ohio Newspaper Association:  For numerous reasons that should be obvious to ONA Bulletin readers, we think it is important to find ways to raise the profile of the Ohio Coalition for Open Government, which is a non-profit group under the umbrella of our Ohio Newspapers Foundation.