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Cincinnati Police Misconduct Settlement Ordered Discloseable Despite Protective Order Or Confidentiality Provision

The Cincinnati Enquirer (Enquirer) sought production in mandamus of a settlement agreement which the appellate court denied in 2002 as exempt "trial preparation" records. The denial was reversed, and the Enquirer was awarded attorney's fees.

A U.S. Department of Justice (DOT) investigation ensued in 2001 into the validity of allegations of misconduct by the Cincinnati Police Department (CPD). The DOJ proposed a settlement to the CPD a year later. The Enquirer requested a copy of the agreement pursuant to the Ohio Public Records Act (Act) which the City solicitor denied. A confidentiality provision was later agreed to. On February 19, 2002, a U.S. District Court judge in Tyehimba v. Cincinnati S.D. Ohio (W.D.) No. c 1 99 3170, announced a rule governing "parties during negotiations;" holding "all drafts of any terms for settlement... shall be deemed confidential and may not be released...except to counsel and the parties in this case."
The Enquirer sought an action to compel in the appellate court on March 14, 2002, which was denied in part due to the Tyehimba ruling.

On a writ of mandamus, the Supreme Court of Ohio held that the DOJ was not a party to Tyehimba, and that neither the protective order or any confidentiality agreement precluded the disclosure because it would trump the Act's intentions. See: State ex rel. Cincinnati Enquirer, Inc. v. Dupuis, 98 Ohio St.3d 126, 2002 Ohio 7041, 781 N.E.2d 163 (2002).

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Related legal case

State ex rel. Cincinnati Enquirer, Inc. v. Dupuis