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Ohio Supreme Court Orders Prison Official to Produce Public Records

by Matt Clarke

On August 20, 2019, the Supreme Court of Ohio granted in part and denied in part a prisoner’s pro se petition for a writ of mandamus to compel a prison official to provide him with records he had requested pursuant to Ohio’s public records act, R.C. 149.43.

Jerone McDougald was incarcerated at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility when he submitted a records request to the facility’s custodian of public records, Larry Greene. He asked Greene to give him access to the legal mail log for February 27, 2019, and for a copy of an envelope the prison had received from an Ohio federal court on the same date. Greene responded to the request but failed to provide the requested documents.

McDougald then filed a mandamus action with the Ohio Supreme Court on April 23, 2019, and Greene submitted an answer.

Greene did not dispute that the prison maintained a log of incoming mail that qualified as a public record. However, he said the facility did not maintain the original or copies of the envelopes the mail comes in, but rather provides the prisoner with a copy of the envelope and discards the original.

Accordingly, the Supreme Court granted a peremptory writ of mandamus, ordering Greene to provide McDougald with copies of the requested mail log pages, if they exist. The Court denied the writ with respect to the request for a copy of the envelope, as the prison had not retained it. See: State ex rel. McDougald v. Greene, 2019-Ohio-3309 (Ohio 2019); 2019 Ohio LEXIS 1652. 

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Related legal case

State ex rel. McDougald v. Greene