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OH PRA Requires Prisoners to Obtain Court Order Finding that Requested Records are Necessary to Support Valid Claim

Robert Russell, an Ohio state prisoner, filed a mandamus action in state court to compel police to provide him with copies of offense and incident reports in his criminal case, pursuant to the state Public Records Act (PRA), Ohio Rev. Code § 149.43, et seq. Russell had been denied the records because the sentencing court hadn’t found them to be necessary to support a valid claim. The court dismissed, and Russell appealed.

The Supreme Court of Ohio held that the PRA required prisoners to first obtain an order from their sentencing judge finding that the requested documents were necessary to support a justifiable claim. Thus, the Court affirmed the lower court’s dismissal of the case. See: State ex rel. Russell v. Thornton, 111 Ohio St.3d 409, 856 N.E.2d 966 (Ohio, 2006), reconsideration denied.

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Related legal case

State ex rel. Russell v. Thornton