STANLEY E. ROBINSON Requester
VILLAGE OF ALEXANDRIA Respondent
to S.C. Reporter 4/23/18
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
JEFFERY W. CLARK SPECIAL MASTER.
Between September 20, 2015 and September 17, 2017, requester
Stanley Robinson submitted six letters to respondent Village
of Alexandria (Village) containing a total of 400 public
records requests. (Complaint at 49-114.) The Village
responded that the September 20, 2015 request was voluminous
and contained language that was ambiguous and overly broad,
but would be reviewed and responded to in batches "as is
logistically practical." (Id. at 60.) The
complaint attached documentation that Robinson characterizes
as the "village's attempted compliance
records." (Id. at 115-135). The complaint lists
the response status of 338 remaining requests as either
"no response" or "not satisfied."
(Id. at 4-48.)
On October 5, 2017, Robinson filed a complaint under R.C.
2743.75 alleging denial of timely access to public records in
violation of R.C. 149.43(B). On October 10, 2017, the court
referred the case to mediation. The parties engaged in four
mediation sessions. On December 14, 2017, the Village filed a
spreadsheet listing Robinson's requests and the
Village's responses. On January 17, 2018, the mediator
filed an entry stating:
January 12, 2018, a fourth mediation was conducted with the
parties. During the mediation, the parties agreed to the
1) Respondent's Village Administrator will provide
requester with documents in response to 18 currently
outstanding requests on or before January 31, 2018;
2) Requester may visit the Village of Alexandria's office
during normal business hours to inspect any remaining records
that have not been provided from now until February 15, 2018;
3) On February 15, 2018, requester shall file with the court
either a notice of voluntary dismissal, or a letter stating
that the case has not been resolved through mediation. The
case shall then proceed pursuant to R.C. 2743.75(E)(2) if
sic.) On February 1, 2018, the Village filed
a comprehensive spreadsheet of Requester Stanley
Robinson's revised public records requests with
Respondent's responses to each request, marked and
attached as Exhibit A. The additional documents were produced
to Mr. Robinson on January 31, 2018. As previously discussed
during the fourth mediation, Mr. Robinson may visit the
Village of Alexandria's office during normal business
hours to look for and inspect any remaining records.
came to the Village office once in January 2018, while [the
mayor] was present, and spent less than one hour searching
for documents." (Jasper Aff. at ¶ 5.) On February
12, 2018, Robinson filed a request that the case proceed to
judicial determination of 37 "remaining unsatisfied
requests." On February 26, 2018, the Village filed a
response and motion to dismiss (Response) with the affidavits
of Mayor Jim Jasper, Fiscal Officer Carol Gissinger, and
Village Administrator Linda Propster.
Ohio's Public Records Act, R.C. 149.43, provides a remedy
for production of records under R.C. 2743.75 if the court of
claims determines that a public office has denied access to
public records in violation of R.C. 149.43(B). The policy
underlying the Act is that "open government serves the
public interest and our democratic system." State ex
rel. Dann v. Taft, 109 Ohio St.3d 364, 2006-Ohio-1825,
848 N.E.2d 472, ¶ 20. "[O]ne of the salutary
purposes of the Public Records Law is to ensure
accountability of government to those being governed."
State ex rel. Strothers v. Wertheim, 80 Ohio St.3d
155, 158, 684 N.E.2d 1239 (1997). Therefore, the Act "is
construed liberally in favor of broad access, and any doubt
is resolved in favor of disclosure of public records."
State ex rel. Cincinnati Enquirer v. Hamilton Cty.,
75 Ohio St.3d 374, 376, 662 N.E.2d 334 (1996). R.C.
149.43(B)(1) requires a public office to make copies of
public records available to any person upon request, within a
reasonable period of time.
R.C. 2743.75(F)(1) states that determination of public
records claims shall be based on "the ordinary
application of statutory law and case law." Case law
regarding the alternative public records remedy under R.C.
149.43(C)(1)(b) provides that a relator must establish by
"clear and convincing evidence" that he is entitled
to relief. State ex rel. Miller v. Ohio State Hwy
Patrol, 136 Ohio St.3d 350, 2013-Ohio-3720, 995 N.E.2d
1175, ¶ 14. Therefore, the merits of this claim shall be
determined under the standard of clear and convincing
evidence, i.e., "that measure or degree of proof which
is more than a mere 'preponderance of the evidence, '
but not to the extent of such certainty as is required
'beyond a reasonable doubt' in criminal cases, and
which will produce in the mind of the trier of facts a firm
belief or conviction as to the facts sought to be
established." Cross v. Ledford, 161 Ohio St.
469, 120 N.E.2d 118 (1954), paragraph three of the syllabus.
Accord Hurt v. Liberty Twp., 5th Dist. Delaware No.
17 CAI 05 0031, 2017-Ohio-7820, ¶ 27-30.