Ohio Law

News and Announcements from the Supreme Court of Ohio and Other Governmental Entities Within the Buckeye State.

Friday, February 25, 2005

Copy of 911 Tape Must Be Provided

Released yesterday by the Supreme Court of Ohio:

State ex rel Dispatch Printing Company v. Morrow County Prosecutor's Office

The Dispatch was allowed to listen to the tape, and the county offered to provide a transcription, but for some reason would not provide a copy of the tape. The Dispatch filed a mandamus action to compel production of the tape under the Ohio Open Records Act. The Supreme Court agreed with the Dispatch and ordered the county to produce a copy of the 911 tape at cost, along with attorneys fees.

However, Justice Paul Pfeifer concurred separately and argued:

I concur in the decision of the majority. The law is clear.
However, as I wrote in State ex rel. Cincinnati Enquirer v. Hamilton Cty.
(1996), 75 Ohio St.3d 374, 662 N.E.2d 334, the General Assembly
should consider changing the law. The public’s right to scrutinize the
workings of the government should be balanced against an individual
citizen’s right to privacy. A person should be able to summon the help
of police officers or firefighters without having his plea broadcast on the
evening news. A transcript of a 911 call would convey the necessary
information without transforming a personal tragedy into a public spectacle.



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