Supreme Court case tests penalty syst...

Supreme Court case tests penalty system for missing public records

There are 23 comments on the DispatchPolitics story from Apr 21, 2011, titled Supreme Court case tests penalty system for missing public records. In it, DispatchPolitics reports that:

Timothy Rhodes says an eastern Ohio town owes him $5 million for violating state public-records law by failing to provide 911 tapes he requested.

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Former Republican

Columbus, OH

#1 Apr 21, 2011
Now we will see if republican judges are activist judges or if they follow the law and award this man his $5 million.
Balls Deep

Grove City, OH

#2 Apr 21, 2011
Give him the NOMINAL damages.
hey

Columbus, OH

#3 Apr 21, 2011
Charge the guy for all the court time and all involved salaries that he is forcing. Maybe if he was charged, he would quit filing frivilous law suits. What a waste.
Shokanman

Columbus, OH

#4 Apr 21, 2011
If SB5 becomes law, and if the Supreme Court finds in favor of this individual, then the City of New Philadelphia would be allowed to "declare a fiscal crisis" and summarily suspend any union contract provisions they desire.
Forgot

Naperville, IL

#5 Apr 21, 2011
Then pay the man ...the law is only convenient if it adversely affects others rather than the system itself... the city should have hired a consultant or at least abided by the law...gee..what a concept...compliance.
Forgot

Naperville, IL

#6 Apr 21, 2011
Hey Shokanman ....this story isn't about SB5....get a clue! BTW if that matter gets to the voters then we'll see. If not sucks to be you.
Grove City Grump

Columbus, OH

#7 Apr 21, 2011
The Ohio Municipal Records Retention Manual makes the following RECOMMENDATIONS for 911 records:

911
System Documentation Life of System
Logs 3 years
Printouts 1 year
Recording Tapes 30 days then reuse provided no action pending

The manual stresses that these are only recommendations. The procedure is supposed to work like this: "Before any municipal records may be disposed of in any manner, the municipal records commission must approve the action in an open meeting (Sec. 121.22 ORC) and submit the approved forms to the Ohio Historical Society’s Local Government Records Program (LGRP). The LGRP will then send the forms to the Ohio Auditor of State. The Auditor of State returns the approved forms to the LGRP, which retains the original and sends a copy back to the municipal records commission. The commission should send a copy to the originating office."

New Philadelphia apparently has been lax in developing a records managment plan but the Ohio Code doesn't seem to provide a penalty for that. I am guessing the court will tell them to develop a retention schedule. The court should also be able to control the amount of the award to the "aggrieved" party, so I doubt that he and his attorney will end up with the %5 million they crave.
History major

Columbus, OH

#8 Apr 21, 2011
The lawsuit is simply for money. However, it seems clear that New Philly never followed state law and created a formal records retention policy, which left them open to this lawsuit.

I hope the court sees the intent of the suit for what it is and awards them nothing or minimal legal fees. Then the court should order New Philly to create a records retention policy, train all city employees on that policy and then implement and follow it. All other governmental/public entities should draw a lesson from this and take action to comply if they haven't already.

Every person has a right to a public document without having to give a reason. Documents should only be destroyed under an approved guidance schedule and only if they have no historic value (as judged by the Ohio Historical Society). All documents should be offered to the state or local historic societies before being destroyed.
common sense

Lewis Center, OH

#9 Apr 21, 2011
If the fine is to "punish" the city to insure compliance , then the fine money should go to the state, NOT the chuckle head that games the system. Why should Joe Nuisance get a dime of the taxpayers money? How was he "hurt" by the missing records? Did he lose his house? His business? Prove damages or go home.
Not Quite

Naperville, IL

#10 Apr 21, 2011
Not all documents are public record. It depends on the Agency and whether it is criminal or not. Individuals not convicted have a right to their privacy. Agencies are compelled to uphold that right.
political suicide

Columbus, OH

#11 Apr 21, 2011
"If SB5 becomes law, and if the Supreme Court finds in favor of this individual..."

and
ALL
State of Ohio taxpayers
would be responsible then for ALL
the cities 'defaulted monies'

political suicide either way.
upnorth

Columbus, OH

#12 Apr 21, 2011
political suicide wrote:
"If SB5 becomes law, and if the Supreme Court finds in favor of this individual..."
and
ALL
State of Ohio taxpayers
would be responsible then for ALL
the cities 'defaulted monies'
political suicide either way.
What the ... does SB5 have to do with this ???
Lee

Columbus, OH

#13 Apr 21, 2011
So the ONLY CLAIM is that New Philly didn't get the blessign of the Ohio Historial Society? Not that New Philly didn't hold onto what was needed for a resonable period, or that they were purposefully destroying records. Sounds like the Judge was right about asking if you can have a claim without harm...
Duane Berry

United States

#14 Apr 21, 2011
It's hard to resist becoming beguiled by fancy lawyer double-talk. However, if "corruption" means our public officials have violated the law; then I don't care about the flawed motives of the person who exposed the corruption - I care about the corruption!

Since: Jan 10

Urbana, OH

#15 Apr 21, 2011
Duane Berry wrote:
It's hard to resist becoming beguiled by fancy lawyer double-talk. However, if "corruption" means our public officials have violated the law; then I don't care about the flawed motives of the person who exposed the corruption - I care about the corruption!
Just how is this "Corruption"? A small city reuses it's 911 tapes and suddenly you are worried that they are 'corrupt'? I'd be more worried about corrupt politicians than I would about a small town recycling tape recordings that are over 20 years old.
New Phila alumni

Columbus, OH

#16 Apr 21, 2011
This just sounds like a frivolous lawsuit to me and it would bankrupt the town I grew up in. This guy shouldn't be able to cash in and live off this money that would most likely come from New Phila taxpayers just because they overlooked something and didn't go through the bureacracy to do it right. It is clear someone there dropped the ball, but the whole city shouldn't be penalized 5 million dollars for it!
Not Quite

Naperville, IL

#17 Apr 21, 2011
For those that disagree...and I see there are a few...just try and get a FOIA from law enforcement agencies. Let me know how that works for you.

"With the ongoing stress on both constitutional and inherent rights of American citizens and the added assertion of government subservience to the individual, some thought it was necessary for government information to be available to the public.
However, due to the sensitivity of some government information and private interests, others believed that certain types of government information should remain secret. Therefore, Congress attempted to enact a Freedom of Information Act in 1966 that would effectively deal with requests for government records, consistent with the belief that the people have the “right to know” about them. The Privacy Act of 1974 additionally covered government documents charting individuals.
However, it is in the exemptions to solicitation of information under these acts that problems and discrepancies arise. The nine exemptions to the FOIA address issues of sensitivity and personal rights. They are (as listed in Title 5 of the United States Code, section 552):[4]
(A) specifically authorized under criteria established by an Executive order to be kept secret in the interest of national defense or foreign policy and (B) are in fact properly classified pursuant to such Executive order;[5]
related solely to the internal personnel rules and practices of an agency;[5]
specifically exempted from disclosure by statute (other than section 552b of this title), provided that such statute (A) requires that the matters be withheld from the public in such a manner as to leave no discretion on the issue, or (B) establishes particular criteria for withholding or refers to particular types of matters to be withheld;[5] FOIA Exemption 3 Statutes
trade secrets and commercial or financial information obtained from a person and privileged or confidential;[5]
inter-agency or intra-agency memoranda or letters which would not be available by law to a party other than an agency in litigation with the agency;[5]
personnel and medical files and similar files the disclosure of which would constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy;[5]
records or information compiled for law enforcement purposes, but only to the extent that the production of such law enforcement records or information (A) could reasonably be expected to interfere with enforcement proceedings,(B) would deprive a person of a right to a fair trial or an impartial adjudication,(C) could reasonably be expected to constitute an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy,(D) could reasonably be expected to disclose the identity of a confidential source, including a State, local, or foreign agency or authority or any private institution which furnished information on a confidential basis, and, in the case of a record or information compiled by a criminal law enforcement authority in the course of a criminal investigation or by an agency conducting a lawful national security intelligence investigation, information furnished by a confidential source,(E) would disclose techniques and procedures for law enforcement investigations or prosecutions, or would disclose guidelines for law enforcement investigations or prosecutions if such disclosure could reasonably be expected to risk circumvention of the law, or (F) could reasonably be expected to endanger the life or physical safety of any individual;[5]
contained in or related to examination, operating, or condition reports prepared by, on behalf of, or for the use of an agency responsible for the regulation or supervision of financial institutions;[5] or
geological and geophysical information and data, including maps, concerning wells.[5]"
duane Berry

United States

#18 Apr 21, 2011
Ohio Veteran wrote:
<quoted text>
Just how is this "Corruption"? A small city reuses it's 911 tapes and suddenly you are worried that they are 'corrupt'? I'd be more worried about corrupt politicians than I would about a small town recycling tape recordings that are over 20 years old.
Cities have a statutory duty to preserve our records and only have authority to destroy them if they follow the process provided. Check out R.C. 149.39. It can be found here --> http://codes.ohio.gov/

I've always heard we have a rule of law in this country. Surely the gov't should also obey the same laws.

Since: Jan 10

Urbana, OH

#19 Apr 21, 2011
duane Berry wrote:
<quoted text>
Cities have a statutory duty to preserve our records and only have authority to destroy them if they follow the process provided. Check out R.C. 149.39. It can be found here --> http://codes.ohio.gov/
I've always heard we have a rule of law in this country. Surely the gov't should also obey the same laws.
So how long should 911 tapes be maintained? As long as your tax records are maintained? You do realize that your tax returns are public records don't you?
Please give us your real name so we can request your information from 20 years ago.... I have a reason to see your drivers license information, your property tax records, your birth certificate... those are all recorded documents with the government so under the Freedom of Information Act I have a right to see them. Are you going to deny me that right?
Bob

Richmond, VA

#20 Apr 22, 2011
Former Republican wrote:
Now we will see if republican judges are activist judges or if they follow the law and award this man his $5 million.
So the Supreme court's job is just to side with written law ? If that is the case, we would not need the supreme court.

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