Civil Rights & Constitutional Law
How people who value open government can overcome the Ohio Department...
January 8, 2015
• Practice Areas • Practices • Ohio Public Records Act, Open Meetings Act, FOIA, & sunshine laws
Ohio is home to some of the broadest "sunshine laws" in the nation. The term "sunshine laws" refers generally to both public-records and open-meetings laws. The term is taken from a pair of quotes by former U.S. Supreme Court Justice:
Open access to information about the actions of government officials, and the bases underlying their decisions, is a cornerstone of our democracy.
In Ohio, public records are the people's records. With limited exemptions, you have the right to inspect and copy public records. A public office may charge only the "actual cost" of making copies, and such cost may not include the cost of labor for public employees to make the copies. At The Chandra Law Firm LLC, we have extensive experience in drafting public-records requests and enforcing the public-records statutes. Drafting requests to avoid common excuse-making is experience driven. (And government officials make lots of excuses for not producing public records.) Our experience includes bringing mandamus litigation before the Supreme Court of Ohio, Ohio's courts of appeals, and the Ohio Court of Claims, to ensure that our clients receive the public records they want and need.
Ohio law also, with limited exceptions, requires public bodies to take official action only in prearranged and publicized meetings that are open to the public. At The Chandra Law Firm LLC, we also have experience calling public bodies and officials to account for their violations of open-meetings laws.
The federal Freedom of Information Act also provides access, with exceptions, to federal records. The Chandra Law Firm LLC has experience in assisting clients with FOIA requests for government information.
We can help you craft enforceable public-records requests with which public offices must comply under applicable law. And if public offices fail to comply with your public-records requests, we can help. The Public Records Act allows citizens to file a mandamus action directly in the Supreme Court of Ohio to demand compliance with a proper public-records request.
You can reach our firm, which serves clients throughout Ohio, by calling 216-578-1700 or by filling out our online contact form.