Public Records Update – In a case of first impression, the Twelfth District Court of Appeals found a cruiser camera video and impaired driver report were excluded from the definition of public records because they fell “squarely within the statutory confidential law enforcement investigatory records exception.” Noting that neither the cruiser video nor the report initiated the criminal investigation, but instead were created to record the personal observations of the Trooper and his subjective experience of investigating the alleged OVI, the Court held these items were properly withheld from production because they were part of the ongoing criminal investigation.
According to the Court, the video captured the Trooper’s assessment of whether he had probable cause to arrest the driver for OVI. Unlike a 911 call or an incident report, the Trooper investigation was not initiated by the requested video, but rather was created by the Trooper to preserve a crucial aspect of his investigation and information-gathering specific to a probable violation of Ohio law. Bottom line, if a criminal case is pending, many items may be exempt from production pursuant to the Ohio Public Records Act. Make certain you check with your law director or solicitor before producing any records.
State ex rel. Miller v. Ohio State Highway Patrol, 12th Dist. No. CA2012-05-034, 2014-Ohio-2244.