COLUMBUS — The investigative files of a completed criminal case are a public record under Ohio law and can be released even if further appeals are possible, the state Supreme Court ruled Wednesday in a lawsuit brought by the Ohio Innocence Project.
Public records lawyers had argued that police departments were improperly interpreting earlier court decisions and arguing they could shield the files of long-closed cases until the defendants died.
At issue was an attempt by the Innocence Project to review the case of a man sentenced to 38 years in prison for killing a woman in 2005. The project doesn’t represent defendant Adam Saleh but wants to review the records, which Saleh alleges will bolster his claim that he didn’t do it.
A divided court ruled Friday that the files, with some exceptions, become a public record once a trial is over.
The court said that under Ohio’s open record laws, the lawyer