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Accessing Public Records in Ohio: Court Remedies for Failure to Produce Records

Court Remedies for Failure to Produce Records

If a public office or person responsible for public records fails to produce requested records, or otherwise fails to comply with the requirements of division (B) of the Public Records Act, the requester can file a lawsuit to 1) seek a writ of mandamus to enforce compliance and 2) apply for various sanctions. Alternatively, the requester may file a complaint in the Court of Claims under a procedure added to Ohio law in 2016.


"Mandamus" is  judicial writ issued as a command to an inferior court ordering a person to perform a public or statutory duty. The person filing the mandamus is called the relator. The relator can file the mandamus action in any one of three courts: the common pleas court of the county where the alleged violation occurred, the court of appeals for the appellate district where the alleged violation occurred, or the Ohio Supreme Court.

Ohio Court of Claims

R.C. 2743.75 gives public records requesters an expedited and economical way to resolve public records disputes in the Ohio Court of Claims.The Court of Claims is an Ohio court of limited jurisdiction, originally created to hear claims against the state for monetary damages. With regard to a particular public records request, a requester can pursue either a mandamus action or resolution in the Court of Claims, but not both. A requester may file a Court of Claims public records complaint, on a form prescribed by the clerk of the court of claims, in either the common pleas court in the county where the public office is located, or directly with the Court of Claims. The requester must attach to the complaint copies of the records request in dispute and any written responses or other communications about the request from the public office.