White v. Department of Rehabilitation and Correction, 011019 OHCOC, 2018-00762PQ

Docket Nº:2018-00762PQ
Opinion Judge:PATRICK M. McGRATH, JUDGE
Party Name:JOHN L. WHITE Requester v. DEPARTMENT OF REHABILITATION AND CORRECTION Respondent
Case Date:January 10, 2019
Court:Court of Claims of Ohio
 
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2019-Ohio-472

JOHN L. WHITE Requester

v.

DEPARTMENT OF REHABILITATION AND CORRECTION Respondent

No. 2018-00762PQ

Court of Claims of Ohio

January 10, 2019

Sent to S.C. Reporter 2/12/19

DECISION MODIFYING AND ADOPTING RECOMMENDATION OF SPECIAL MASTER

PATRICK M. McGRATH, JUDGE

{¶1} Pursuant to R.C. 2743.75(F)(2), the court modifies and adopts the special master's report and recommendation (R&R) issued on November 26, 2018.

I. Background and Procedural History

{¶2} On April 25, 2018, requester John L. White sent a letter to respondent Department of Rehabilitation and Correction (DRC), "making 23 public records requests." (R&R, 1.) Six days later, on May 1, 2018, White sued DRC, alleging a denial of access to public records. (R&R, 1.) During mediation DRC provided White "with nearly six thousand pages of records, with explanations and legal authority for the few dozen pages which contained redactions." (R&R, 1.)

{¶3} After the special master reviewed in camera certain documents, the special master issued a R&R on November 26, 2018. The special master "found that DRC has failed to meet its burden to prove by clear and convincing evidence that any other material meets all the factors of common-law attorney client privilege." (R&R, 8.) The special master recommended that the court grant requester's claim for relief for partial production of the withheld records as detailed above, and deny the remaining claims. It was also recommended that costs be assessed to requester "[b]ecause the claim was filed prematurely, and the vast majority of requests were either withdrawn or satisfied within a reasonable period of time." (R&R, 9.) In the R&R, the special master included a table outlining whether certain content was protected by attorney-client privilege. (R&R, 6-8.)

{¶4} The court forwarded a copy of the R&R to White and to DRC's counsel by certified mail on November 27, 2018. According to the court's records, DRC received a copy of the R&R on December 3, 2018. Seven business days later-on December 12, 2018-DRC, through counsel, filed objections to the special master's R&R, with DRC's counsel certifying that he sent a copy of its objections to White by certified mail.

{¶5} DRC asserts in its objections of December 12, 2018, that "the R&R on attorney-client privilege is contrary to law and facts and does not consider [DRC's] Supplemental Sur-Reply ('SS-R')." (Objections, 1.) DRC asks the court to "adopt in part (i.e., 'assessment of court costs' against Requester and finding two paragraphs 'constitute A-C legal opinion') and reject in part, the Special Master's Report and Recommendation based on * * * errors relative to the Special Master's findings of fact and conclusions of law, independently review the objected matters, find * * * records are privileged attorney-client...

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