Court of Appeals of Ohio, Eighth District, Cuyahoga
of Mandamus Order No. 529858
Carter, pro se.
Michael C. O'Malley, Cuyahoga County Prosecuting
Attorney, for respondent.
JOURNAL ENTRY AND OPINION
MICHELLE J. SHEEHAN, JUDGE
1} On June 19, 2019, the relator, Jerome Carter,
commenced this mandamus action. He named Judge Michael
Donnelly as the respondent.  Carter seeks to compel the judge
"to do [her] clear and legal duty and cause realtor
[sic] to receive requested public records information
according to R.C.§149.43 (B)(1) For the following
reasons, this court dismisses the application for a writ of
mandamus sua sponte.
2} In early March 2019, Carter made a written public
records request to the city of Cleveland for all records,
information, or data under his name, and for all records
related to the case of State v. Carter, Cuyahoga
C.P. No. CR-04-458958-B. He also sought records relating to the
processing of fingerprints, including any disciplinary
actions against anyone working with fingerprints and on which
cases such individuals worked.
3} On March 12, 2019, Cleveland's Law Department
replied that pursuant to R.C. 149.43(B)(8), the requested
records are not releasable without a finding by the
sentencing judge that the information sought is necessary to
support what appears to be a justiciable claim. Carter then
commenced this mandamus action.
4} The requisites for mandamus are well established:
(1) the relator must have a clear legal right to the
requested relief, (2) the respondent must have a clear legal
duty to perform the requested relief, and (3) there must be
no adequate remedy at law. Additionally, although mandamus
may be used to compel a court to exercise judgment or to
discharge a function, it may not control judicial discretion,
even if that discretion is grossly abused. State ex rel.
Ney v. Niehaus, 33 Ohio St.3d 118, 515 N.E.2d 914
(1987). Mandamus is an extraordinary remedy that is to be
exercised with caution and only when the right is clear. It
should not issue in doubtful cases. State ex rel Taylor
v. Glasser, 50 Ohio St.2d 165, 364 N.E.2d 1 (1977);
State ex rel Shafer v. Ohio Turnpike Comm., 159 Ohio
St. 581, 113 N.E.2d 14 (1953); State ex rel Connole v.
Cleveland Bd. of Edn., 87 Ohio App.3d 43, 621 N.E.2d 850
5} To the extent that Carter is seeking to compel
the respondent judge to issue a journal entry, his complaint
is ill-founded. The Ohio Public Records statute, R.C.
14943(B)(8), provides that a person responsible for public
records is not required to permit a person who is
incarcerated pursuant to a criminal conviction to inspect or
obtain copies of any public records concerning a criminal
investigation or prosecution unless the judge who imposed the
sentence or the judge's successor in office finds that
the information sought in the public records is necessary to
support what appears to be a justiciable claim of the person.
A review of the docket in the underlying case shows that
Carter has not asked the respondent judge to make such a
finding. Without fulfilling this necessary prerequisite,
there is no basis for a writ of mandamus. Compare State
ex rel Cincinnati Enquirer v. Deters, 148 Ohio St.3d
595, 2016-Ohio-8195, 71 N.E.3d 1076, ¶ 20 - a prior
request is a prerequisite to a mandamus action.
6} Moreover, even if Carter had made a request under
R.C. 149.43(B)(8), mandamus would only lie to compel a
ruling, not to compel the judge to make a finding that Carter
should get the records. Mandamus may not control judicial
discretion. The remedy for an unfavorable finding would be
appeal, not mandamus. State v. Dowell, 8th Dist.
Cuyahoga No. 102408, 2015-Ohio-3237.
7} To the extent that Carter is seeking records
directly from the judge, his complaint is also ill-founded.
The judge is not the custodian of those records and, thus,
has no duty to disclose them. Furthermore, public record
requests to a court are governed by the Rules of
Superintendence, not R.C. 149.43, and this mandamus action is
not premised on those provisions. State ex rel Harris v.
Pureval, 155 Ohio St.3d 343, 2018-Ohio-4718, 121 N.E.3d
8} Accordingly, this court, sua sponte, dismisses
this application for a writ of mandamus. Relator to pay
costs; costs waived. This court directs the clerk of courts
to serve all parties notice of this judgment and its date of
entry upon the journal as required by Civ.R. 58(B).