Under Ohio’s Public Records Law, any Ohioan may request copies of public records from a public office. If a proper request for records is denied, the citizen can petition a court to order the release of the records.
However, new legislation passed by the General Assembly – the first of its kind in the country – now gives Ohioans a more streamlined and cost-effective way to obtain these records in case of a denial.
The law, the product of legislation from Senate President Keith Faber, R-Celina, will send complaints to a mediator who will work with citizens and government officials in an attempt to reach a resolution.
If no agreement is reached, a special master will rule within seven days whether government was legally correct in denying a records request or broke the law and must hand over the records.
In order to file an appeal, a citizen must file a complaint form and copies of the records requests and governmental denials, along with a filing fee of $25, with the county court of common pleas.
The 2016 Ohio Sunshine Laws Manual, published by the Public Records unit of the Ohio Attorney General’s office, provides an excellent overview of Ohio’s public records laws.