By Randy Ludlow, The Columbus Dispatch

“Overly broad” is the new mantra of some government officials in dealing with — and denying — some public-records requests.

And, in some cases, the Ohio Supreme Court agrees, those requesting records are failing in their duty to specify with “reasonable clarity” what exactly they are seeking.

In a ruling issued last week, the justices unanimously agreed that Columbus State Community College acted properly in denying a former employee’s requests for records because they sought broad categories of records over a lengthy period.

The ruling broke no new legal ground, but serves as a reminder of the need for specificity in requesting records to avoid the “overly broad” slap back.

The former college employee wanted to review years’ worth of records, without any narrowing limitations, and wanted all email exchanges between herself and another employee. The college provided some records, but pressed for more details on what was being sought to no avail.

It is vital in requesting records to specify a time frame and the content of what is being sought. To request entire classes of records is inviting denial.

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