State ex rel. Lanham v. Smith, No. 2006-0789.

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Ohio
Writing for the CourtPer Curiam
Citation2007 Ohio 609,112 Ohio St.3d 527,861 N.E.2d 530
PartiesThe STATE ex rel. LANHAM v. SMITH, Police Chief, et al.
Docket NumberNo. 2006-0789.
Decision Date28 February 2007
861 N.E.2d 530
112 Ohio St.3d 527
2007-Ohio-609
The STATE ex rel. LANHAM
v.
SMITH, Police Chief, et al.
No. 2006-0789.
Supreme Court of Ohio.
Submitted January 9, 2007.
Decided February 28, 2007.

The Law Firm of Curt C. Hartman and Curt C. Hartman, Amelia, for relator.

[861 N.E.2d 531]

Donald W. White, Clermont County Prosecuting Attorney, and Elizabeth Mason, Assistant Prosecuting Attorney, for respondents.

PER CURIAM.


112 Ohio St.3d 527

{¶ 1} This is an original action for a writ of mandamus to compel a police chief and a township to provide copies of certain police offense-and-incident reports and any narratives or supplements to these reports. Because these records do not exist, we deny the writ.

{¶ 2} Karen Register is the Fiscal Officer, formerly township clerk, of respondent Pierce Township, Clermont County, Ohio. As part of her duties, Register takes minutes of meetings of the Pierce Township Board of Trustees by hand, creates a draft of each set of minutes on her computer, circulates the draft to the trustees, incorporates appropriate suggestions from the trustees, and prepares the final version for approval by the board. Register uses a computer located in her township offices and provided to her by the township to prepare the minutes.

{¶ 3} In August 2004, Register informed respondent Pierce Township Police Chief James T. Smith that someone had obtained access to her computer and had made unauthorized, substantive changes to the minutes of a board meeting. Police Chief Smith typed notes of his conversation with Register, but he did not incorporate those notes into an offense or incident report. Register did not accuse any specific person. Police Chief Smith did not conduct an investigation concerning Register's statements for several months.

{¶ 4} At a February 8, 2005 township board of trustees meeting, Register publicly announced that someone had broken into her computer in her office and tampered with a draft set of minutes for a May 2004 board meeting. The board had formally approved those minutes in August 2004. Register insisted upon a police investigation and stated that she had previously reported the incident to Police Chief Smith in August 2004.

{¶ 5} Shortly after the board meeting, Police Chief Smith contacted the county prosecutor's office and a special agent from the Ohio Bureau of Criminal

112 Ohio St.3d 528

Identification and Investigation to assist in the investigation. During the investigation, attorney Curt C. Hartman admitted to Police Chief Smith and Special Agent Karen Rebori that he had obtained access to Register's computer and had altered the meeting minutes. Apparently, at the time, Hartman was a township trustee.

{¶ 6} In February 2006, relator, Kent Lanham, a township resident and taxpayer, requested that Police Chief Smith and the township administrator provide him with copies of the following documents pursuant to the Ohio Public Records Act, R.C. 149.43:

{¶ 7} "[A]ny offense or incident report(s) relating to the allegation by the Pierce Township Clerk [i.e., Register] (made publicly at the township trustee[s'] meeting on February 8, 2005) that someone had allegedly broken into and tampered with the township computer located within the clerk's office. In addition to the...

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54 practice notes
  • Narciso v. Powell Police Dep't, Case No. 2018-01195PQ
    • United States
    • Court of Claims of Ohio
    • October 22, 2018
    ...thereof) often serves as the initial offense or incident report for law enforcement agencies. See State ex rel. Lanham v. Smith, 112 Ohio St.3d 527, 2007-Ohio-609, 861 N.E.2d 530, ¶ 13. In the UIR Training Manual at p. 2, the Administrative Section is described as including the purpose "to ......
  • State ex rel. Toledo Blade v. Seneca Cty., No. 2007-1694.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Ohio
    • December 9, 2008
    ...have been destroyed. There is no duty under R.C. 149.43 to create records that no longer exist. See State ex rel. Lanham v. Smith, 112 Ohio St.3d 527, 2007-Ohio-609, 861 N.E.2d 530, ¶ 15 (in public-records mandamus case, respondents "have no duty to create or provide access to nonexistent r......
  • 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
    ...and incident reports are public records and are "normally subject to immediate release upon request." State ex rel. Lanham v. Smith , 112 Ohio St.3d 527, 2007-Ohio-609, 861 N.E.2d 530, ¶ 13.{¶ 26} In Cincinnati Enquirer v. Pub. Safety at ¶ 45, the Supreme Court found that the trial-preparat......
  • State ex rel. Myers v. Meyers, 2020-1469
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Ohio
    • June 9, 2022
    ..."are subject to immediate release upon request"), [1] overruled on other grounds by Caster; see also State ex rel. Lanham v. Smith, 112 Ohio St.3d 527, 2007-Ohio-609, 861 N.E.2d 530, ¶ 13 (routine offense-and-incident reports, which are "form reports in which the law enforcement officer com......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
55 cases
  • Narciso v. Powell Police Dep't, Case No. 2018-01195PQ
    • United States
    • Court of Claims of Ohio
    • October 22, 2018
    ...thereof) often serves as the initial offense or incident report for law enforcement agencies. See State ex rel. Lanham v. Smith, 112 Ohio St.3d 527, 2007-Ohio-609, 861 N.E.2d 530, ¶ 13. In the UIR Training Manual at p. 2, the Administrative Section is described as including the purpose "to ......
  • State ex rel. Toledo Blade v. Seneca Cty., No. 2007-1694.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Ohio
    • December 9, 2008
    ...have been destroyed. There is no duty under R.C. 149.43 to create records that no longer exist. See State ex rel. Lanham v. Smith, 112 Ohio St.3d 527, 2007-Ohio-609, 861 N.E.2d 530, ¶ 15 (in public-records mandamus case, respondents "have no duty to create or provide access to nonexistent r......
  • 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
    ...and incident reports are public records and are "normally subject to immediate release upon request." State ex rel. Lanham v. Smith , 112 Ohio St.3d 527, 2007-Ohio-609, 861 N.E.2d 530, ¶ 13.{¶ 26} In Cincinnati Enquirer v. Pub. Safety at ¶ 45, the Supreme Court found that the trial-preparat......
  • State ex rel. Myers v. Meyers, 2020-1469
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Ohio
    • June 9, 2022
    ..."are subject to immediate release upon request"), [1] overruled on other grounds by Caster; see also State ex rel. Lanham v. Smith, 112 Ohio St.3d 527, 2007-Ohio-609, 861 N.E.2d 530, ¶ 13 (routine offense-and-incident reports, which are "form reports in which the law enforcement officer com......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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