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Thread: How do I request public record

  1. #1
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    How do I request public record

    I am looking for a little info on requesting public record. I would like to help a friend out in an upcoming case that he will be facing. I would like to request all video, audio, and police report pertaining to his case. Is ORC 149.43 (Availability of public records for inspection and copying) what I need to request? Do I have the records mailed or do I leave a phone#to contact and pick them up. I am very new to this type of thing, and have found that there are a lot of very educated folks on this forum. I have found that the people on this forum are very good at helping others with a starting point as to look up the laws and procedures that they need help with.

  2. #2
    Regular Member Vader33's Avatar
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    How do I request public record

    You need to go to the county Clark's office in the county where the incident took place and file a Open Records Request. It's very similar and often referred to as the Freedom of Information Act (but the FIA is actually on the federal level.). If as long as the documents you're looking for aren't sealed pending an investigation, you should be able to retrieve them. Just out of curiosity, why isn't your friend or his/her attorney doing this?


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  3. #3
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    Here are some samples: http://www.kingsknight.org/publicrecordsrequest.zip.
    In the past, I have sent them to the police chief by mail, or walked in with them and hand delivered them.

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    Here in Ohio it is called the Sunshine law. Here is the Attorney General's manual explaining it:

    http://www.ohioattorneygeneral.gov/F...ne-Laws-Manual

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    Are you wanting only the police side of all the information? If so, you file the request directly with the police department. Generally send the letter directly to the Chief and they will forward it to the proper authority in their department to handle the request.

    You need to be exact and specific on what you are looking for. If you want cruiser video, specify that. You can't make a general statement "all documents and information related to arrest of John Smith." That will most likely be denied as it's too vague (I know it's not, but they are legally allowed to deny that.)

    Specify if you want to preview the documents or if you just want to pick it up.

    As for getting the actual items, they can only charge you the exact costs. If you request it mailed, they can charge you postage. If you pick them up, it's actual costs of the paper and any media format for the audio/video.

    Personally, in the 21st century, I like to make requests via email and ask for all items to be emailed back if possible, and if they can't be due to size limit for that to be specified for each item and those items to be put on a CD/DVD. Why? Well, unless they got really smart, it's hard to figure out the costs of scanning and converting to a PDF and emailing a video/audio file. They can't charge you for the time it took.

    Check out the manual above and send off a request.

  6. #6
    Regular Member mtbinva's Avatar
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    How do I request public record

    It's called a discovery request. And all information in re the case has to be delivered in a certain format for legal defensibility.

    I am NOT an attorney, however I deal with electronic evidence for a living.
    Chance favors only the prepared mind.

    Louis Pasteur


  7. #7
    Accomplished Advocate BB62's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mtbinva View Post
    It's called a discovery request. And all information in re the case has to be delivered in a certain format for legal defensibility.

    I am NOT an attorney, however I deal with electronic evidence for a living.
    No, it's not a discovery request, at least not in Ohio. It's a public records request.

    A discovery request comes about when one is involved with legal action.

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    Quote Originally Posted by mtbinva View Post
    It's called a discovery request. And all information in re the case has to be delivered in a certain format for legal defensibility.

    I am NOT an attorney, however I deal with electronic evidence for a living.
    Exactly. The operative words in OP's post being "upcoming case that he will be facing." If there is a pending criminal action, the "friend" can definitely get more through Crim.R. 16 than through a public records request. However, only the "friend" or his attorney can make the discovery request. For the OP to do so would constitute unauthorized practice of law.

  9. #9
    Regular Member mtbinva's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Werz View Post
    Exactly. The operative words in OP's post being "upcoming case that he will be facing." If there is a pending criminal action, the "friend" can definitely get more through Crim.R. 16 than through a public records request. However, only the "friend" or his attorney can make the discovery request. For the OP to do so would constitute unauthorized practice of law.
    Exactly. For a regular request for public records, there are a bunch if sites online, that for a fee, will retrieve the records. Although, making a discovery request is not UPL, since all it is is a request. One can request records, if there is a reasonable expectation of some sort of court action.

    Best advice to answer the original question, use an attorney. Period.

    Good luck regardless.

  10. #10
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    Well my friend did the smart thing and got a lawyer. Thanks for all the info.
    Last edited by Troy bilt; 01-30-2013 at 09:54 PM.

  11. #11
    Regular Member mtbinva's Avatar
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    How do I request public record

    Good call!!
    Chance favors only the prepared mind.

    Louis Pasteur


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