From The Blade
The Blade has a long history of challenging violations of Ohio’s “Sunshine Law” that ensures public access to government meetings and records.
In May, the newspaper filed a suit in Lucas County Common Pleas Court against the Economic Opportunity Planning Association of Greater Toledo after board members entered into an illegal, closed-door executive session to discuss the agency’s Head Start grant application. A week later, the agency agreed to pay The Blade’s court costs and attorney fees to comply with the open-meetings law, and to provide notice of the agreement to all board members.
Not all challenges have been settled so expeditiously, but most have been successful.
In 2010, the newspaper challenged a gag order imposed in Henry County Common Pleas Court that would have prevented the media from reporting on a local manslaughter trial until a jury was seated in a subsequent co-defendant’s trial. The Ohio Supreme Court unanimously agreed with The Blade that the gag order was unconstitutional, and that a judge cannot place the right to a fair trial above the right to free speech and press.
More than four years before Seneca County commissioners demolished the county’s historic 1884 courthouse, The Blade filed a lawsuit in September, 2007, with the Ohio Supreme Court claiming the board intentionally withheld or destroyed public records. The newspaper sought access to all emails concerning the proposed demolition of the courthouse.
The case led to a ground-breaking decision in December, 2008, in which the high court found that a deleted email doesn’t cease to be a public record if it still can be retrieved from a computer’s hard drive. The court ordered county commissioners to make reasonable efforts to retrieve deleted emails.
In 2006, The Blade joined the (Cleveland) Plain Dealer in asking a U.S. District Court judge to unseal affidavits from the searches of a Toledo travel agency and the home of Toledoan charged in a suspected terrorist plot. Judge James Carr ordered the documents unsealed but allowed words, phrases, and paragraphs that contained information sensitive to the government’s ongoing investigation to be redacted.