Wednesday, June 20, 2012

New mediation program for Ohio public records disputes



Press release:

Attorney General DeWine Announces Public Records Mediation Program

(COLUMBUS, Ohio)—Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine has announced the start of a mediation program to resolve disputes between local governments and persons requesting public records. The Ohio Attorney General's Public Records Mediation Program will be available to governments and requesters starting today.

"The Ohio Public Records Act is one of the most comprehensive open government laws in the nation," said Attorney General DeWine. "The Ohio Attorney General's Public Records Mediation Program will protect the rights and interests of both Ohioans and their local officials by helping resolve disputes before parties turn to time consuming and costly litigation."

The Ohio Attorney General's Public Records Mediation Program will be open to any party in a dispute over local government public records. The mediation may be requested by the records requestor or the local government. Both parties must consent to the mediation.

The Ohio Attorney General's Public Records Mediation Program will seek to resolve disputes over public records requests that have been alleged to be improperly denied or not responded to in a reasonable period of time. The mediation will be conducted by a member of the Ohio Attorney General's Public Records Unit. The cost of the program will be free to both parties.

To be eligible for the Ohio Attorney General's Public Records Mediation Program, the party involved must be a local government entity, such as county and city governments, township boards of trustees, school boards, and village councils, among others.

"The attorneys in my office spend a considerable amount of time and energy ensuring that State entities fully comply with their public records obligations and resolve public records disputes without the need for litigation," said Attorney General DeWine. "My hope is that this Mediation Program will provide local government entities and records requesters a similar opportunity to resolve public records disputes quickly and easily and without the need for litigation."

To request mediation, parties should complete and submit an intake form online at www.OhioAttorneyGeneral.gov/PublicRecordsMediation, or contact the Ohio Attorney General's Public Records Unit at 1-888-958-5088.

To learn more about Ohio's public records laws, please review the Ohio Sunshine Laws Manual at www.OhioAttorneyGeneral.gov/YellowBook.

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2 comments:

Mad Jack said...

Both parties must consent to the mediation.

Well, that's a lost cause.

What does DeWine think, anyway? Does he really believe that the City of Toledo will agree to mediation when the city doesn't want to turn over public records? Is he really that dense?

Access to public records is clearly defined and is routinely denied all the time - there is no penalty associated with denial. And that is the real problem.

Maggie Thurber said...

Actually, there are penalties, though they're not called such. If you sue for mandamus action, the govt. agency could be required to pay your attorney fees as well as a $100 per day if found in violation.

It's not much, but it's better than nothing at all.

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