State ex rel. Cincinnati Enquirer v. Heath, No. 2008-1250.

CourtOhio Supreme Court
Writing for the CourtPer Curiam
Citation2009 Ohio 590,902 N.E.2d 976,121 Ohio St.3d 165
Docket NumberNo. 2008-1250.
Decision Date18 February 2009
PartiesThe STATE ex rel. CINCINNATI ENQUIRER, A Division of Gannett Satellite Information Network, Inc., Appellant, v. HEATH, Judge, et al., Appellees.
902 N.E.2d 976
121 Ohio St.3d 165
2009-Ohio-590
The STATE ex rel. CINCINNATI ENQUIRER, A Division of Gannett Satellite Information Network, Inc., Appellant,
v.
HEATH, Judge, et al., Appellees.
No. 2008-1250.
Supreme Court of Ohio.
Submitted January 20, 2009.
Decided February 18, 2009.

Graydon, Head & Ritchey, L.L.P., and John C. Greiner, Cincinnati, for appellant.

Rachel A. Hutzel, Warren County Prosecuting Attorney, and Keith W. Anderson and Mary K. Martin, Assistant Prosecuting Attorneys, for appellee.

PER CURIAM.


121 Ohio St.3d 165

{¶ 1} This is an appeal from the dismissal of an action for a writ of mandamus to compel common pleas court judges to vacate orders sealing certain records in a criminal case and to make the records available for inspection and copying in accordance with R.C. 149.43, the Public Records Act. Because the court of appeals erred in holding that appellant's mandamus claim was moot and in determining that appellant was therefore not entitled to an award of attorney fees, we reverse the judgment of the court of appeals and remand for further proceedings.

Arrest and Municipal Court Proceedings

{¶ 2} Michel Veillette was arrested in January 2008 and was accused of murdering

902 N.E.2d 977

his wife and their four children in their Mason, Ohio home. Veillette appeared in the Mason Municipal Court for a preliminary hearing that was open to the public. At the hearing, the state introduced several exhibits, including Veillette's taped statement, crime-scene photographs, and a crime-scene diagram. Mason Municipal Court Judge Andrew Batsche sealed the search warrant and related records in connection with the criminal investigation and subsequently sealed the records related to the criminal cases.

Common Pleas Court Proceedings

{¶ 3} On January 28, 2008, appellee Warren County Common Pleas Court Judge Neal Bronson granted the state's motion and sealed the records in Veillette's criminal case "bound over from Mason Municipal Court." Appellant, the Cincinnati Enquirer, a division of Gannett Satellite Information Network, Inc., requested that Judge Batsche and Judge James Heath of the Warren County Common Pleas Court vacate Judge Batsche's sealing order.

121 Ohio St.3d 166

{¶ 4} A few months after the sealing orders, Judge Heath conducted a hearing at which the state argued that Veillette "would be deprived of a fair trial by disclosure of the information that was presented at the preliminary hearing." Veillette joined in the state's motion. Judge Heath decided that the materials should remain sealed in accordance with Judge Bronson's and Judge Batsche's orders:

{¶ 5} "In light of the interests of the Defendant, those being primary at this point in time, the fact that this information potentially could taint the jury pool, in order to protect his due process rights, I think it is appropriate that the information remain sealed."

Mandamus Case

{¶ 6} A few days later, the Enquirer filed a complaint in the Court of Appeals for Warren County for a writ of mandamus to compel Judge Heath, Judge Bronson, and Judge Batsche to vacate their orders sealing the records relating to Veillette's criminal case and to provide the records for inspection and copying. The Enquirer also requested an award of attorney fees. The Enquirer later voluntarily dismissed Judge Batsche from the case.

{¶ 7} On April 15, 2008, Veillette committed suicide in his Warren County jail cell. Judge Heath then ordered that the previous order sealing the records from the preliminary hearing be lifted because of Veillette's death. Judge Heath and Judge Bronson filed a motion to dismiss the Enquirer's complaint based on mootness. The court of appeals granted the motion and dismissed the cause. The court of appeals also denied the Enquirer's request for attorney fees.

{¶ 8} This cause is now before the court upon the Enquirer's...

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27 practice notes
  • State ex rel. Cincinnati Enquirer v. Ohio Dep't of Commerce, 17AP-63
    • United States
    • United States Court of Appeals (Ohio)
    • September 30, 2019
    ...to the relator in a public-records mandamus case renders the mandamus claim moot.’ " State ex rel. Cincinnati Enquirer v. Heath , 121 Ohio St.3d 165, 2009-Ohio-590, 902 N.E.2d 976, ¶ 10, quoting State ex rel. Toledo Blade Co. v. Seneca Cty. Bd. of Commrs. , 120 Ohio St.3d 372, 2008-Ohio-625......
  • State ex rel. Verhovec v. City of Marietta, Case No. 11CA29
    • United States
    • United States Court of Appeals (Ohio)
    • December 4, 2013
    ...v. Fairfield Twp., 12th Dist. Butler No. CA2012-04-080, 2012-Ohio-5842, ¶ 12, citing State ex rel. Cincinnati Enquirer v. Heath, 121 Ohio St.3d 165, 2009-Ohio-590, 902 N.E.2d 976, ¶ 18. {¶ 33} A claim for statutory damages, court costs, and attorney's fees under the Public Records Act is gr......
  • City of Dublin v. Friedman, 16AP–516
    • United States
    • United States Court of Appeals (Ohio)
    • December 19, 2017
    ...damages preserves CHKRS's ability to receive meaningful relief in this appeal. Compare State ex rel. Cincinnati Enquirer v. Heath , 121 Ohio St.3d 165, 2009-Ohio-590, 902 N.E.2d 976, ¶ 18 (holding that "a claim for attorney fees in a public-records mandamus action is not rendered moot by th......
  • Crenshaw v. City of Cleveland Law Dep't, 108519
    • United States
    • United States Court of Appeals (Ohio)
    • March 12, 2020
    ...damages or attorney fees under R.C. 149.43(C). See, e.g., Kesterson at ¶ 31-32, 34-35, 38; State ex rel. Cincinnati Enquirer v. Heath, 121 Ohio St.3d 165, 2009-Ohio-590, 902 N.E.2d 976, ¶ 18. {¶ 47} The city contends that the trial court properly determined that Crenshaw was not entitled to......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
26 cases
  • State ex rel. Cincinnati Enquirer v. Ohio Dep't of Commerce, No. 17AP-63
    • United States
    • United States Court of Appeals (Ohio)
    • September 30, 2019
    ...to the relator in a public-records mandamus case renders the mandamus claim moot.’ " State ex rel. Cincinnati Enquirer v. Heath , 121 Ohio St.3d 165, 2009-Ohio-590, 902 N.E.2d 976, ¶ 10, quoting State ex rel. Toledo Blade Co. v. Seneca Cty. Bd. of Commrs. , 120 Ohio St.3d 372, 2008-Ohio-625......
  • State ex rel. Verhovec v. City of Marietta, Case No. 11CA29
    • United States
    • United States Court of Appeals (Ohio)
    • December 4, 2013
    ...v. Fairfield Twp., 12th Dist. Butler No. CA2012-04-080, 2012-Ohio-5842, ¶ 12, citing State ex rel. Cincinnati Enquirer v. Heath, 121 Ohio St.3d 165, 2009-Ohio-590, 902 N.E.2d 976, ¶ 18. {¶ 33} A claim for statutory damages, court costs, and attorney's fees under the Public Records Act is gr......
  • City of Dublin v. Friedman, No. 16AP–516
    • United States
    • United States Court of Appeals (Ohio)
    • December 19, 2017
    ...damages preserves CHKRS's ability to receive meaningful relief in this appeal. Compare State ex rel. Cincinnati Enquirer v. Heath , 121 Ohio St.3d 165, 2009-Ohio-590, 902 N.E.2d 976, ¶ 18 (holding that "a claim for attorney fees in a public-records mandamus action is not rendered moot by th......
  • Crenshaw v. City of Cleveland Law Dep't, No. 108519
    • United States
    • United States Court of Appeals (Ohio)
    • March 12, 2020
    ...damages or attorney fees under R.C. 149.43(C). See, e.g., Kesterson at ¶ 31-32, 34-35, 38; State ex rel. Cincinnati Enquirer v. Heath, 121 Ohio St.3d 165, 2009-Ohio-590, 902 N.E.2d 976, ¶ 18. {¶ 47} The city contends that the trial court properly determined that Crenshaw was not entitled to......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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