Columbus police have illegally withheld some public records by refusing to release files on
closed criminal cases, the Ohio Supreme Court ruled this morning.
The ruling overturns the police division’s practice since 2010 to refuse to release records in
homicide and other high-profile cases to private investigators, reporters at The Dispatch and
The justices found that the city improperly relied on prior court rulings, with city officials
arguing records could not be released as long as defendants still had potential appeals, which
generally can be filed at any time. Such a practice, critics said, meant records were secret until
defendants died or were freed from prison.
A lawyer for an Innocence Project who filed the lawsuit against the city had argued that
Columbus’ stance could keep the innocent in prison and true killers walking the streets since
police case files could not be examined by third parties.