The Ohio Supreme Court held that when a criminal defendant “directly or indirectly makes a public records request for information that could be obtained from the prosecutor through discovery, the request is the equivalent of a demand for discovery and triggers a duty to provide reciprocal discovery as contemplated by Crim. R. 16.”
Before the court was the case of Gary Athon, who was charged on December 20, 2010, with operating a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol, speeding, and failing to reinstate his driver’s license. Rather than participate in discovery under Crim. R. 16, his attorney, Steven Adams, requested attorney Christopher Finney to make a public records request from the State Highway Patrol seeking the same material that would routinely be sought in a case of the nature Athon was charged with violating.
The state, after the public records request was satisfied, moved the trial court to compel Athon to provide discovery, asserting the public records request amounted to a demand for discovery and triggered a reciprocal duty of disclosure under Crim. R. 16 (H). The trial court agreed and granted the motion. Athon appealed, and the appellate court reversed, finding a public records request is not “tantamount to a demand for discovery.”
The Ohio supreme Court reversed the appellate court’s holding and held a public records request is not a substitute nor an alternative to discovery, when a defendant utilizes a public records request for discovery, it triggers reciprocal discovery under Crim. R. 16. See: Ohio v. Athon, Slip Opinion 2013-Ohio-1956 (Ohio 2013).
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Related legal case
Ohio v. Athon
|Slip Opinion 2013-Ohio-1956 (Ohio 2013)
|State Supreme Court