The Ohio Supreme Court awarded The Cincinnati Enquirer a victory in one battle yesterday but denied it a larger win in its fight to inspect improperly sealed court records.
In a 5-2 ruling, the justices overturned the order of a Butler County judge sealing records about a Miami University student who was charged with distributing fliers advocating the rape of women.
However, the court declined to unseal other criminal-case records that Judge Robert Lyons admittedly sealed for 14 years, ruling the newspaper did not sufficiently identify the records that were improperly sealed.
The Enquirer argued that the sealed records, largely involving students at the public university in Oxford, remained public because Lyons did not follow state law in removing the records from public view.
The judge long sealed records of criminal convictions by citing a section of state law that permits those found not guilty or against whom charges are dismissed to immediately have the records sealed.
However, the cases disputed by the newspaper involved convictions in which offenders were entitled to file petitions to seal records after one year for a misdemeanor.