§ 30.08  PUBLIC RECORDS AVAILABLE.
   (A)   Upon request and subject to division (H) of this section, all public records responsive to the request shall be promptly prepared and made available for inspection to any person at all reasonable times during regular business hours. Subject to division (H) of this section, upon request by any person, a public office or person responsible for public records shall make copies of the requested public record available to the requestor at cost and within a reasonable period of time. If a public record contains information that is exempt from the duty to permit public inspection or to copy the public record, the public office or the person responsible for the public record shall make available all of the information within the public record that is not exempt. When making that public record available for public inspection or copying that public record, the public office or the person responsible for the public record shall notify the requester of any redaction or make the redaction plainly visible. A redaction shall be deemed a denial of a request to inspect or copy the redacted information, except if federal or state law authorizes or requires a public office to make the redaction.
   (B)   To facilitate broader access to public records, a public office or the person responsible for public records shall organize and maintain public records in a manner that they can be made available for inspection or copying in accordance with this section. A public office also shall have available a copy of its current records retention schedule at a location readily available to the public. If a requester makes an ambiguous or overly broad request or has difficulty in making a request for copies or inspection of public records under this section, such that the public office or the person responsible for the requested public record cannot reasonably identify what public records are being requested, the public office or the person responsible for the requested public record may deny the request but shall provide the requester with an opportunity to revise the request by informing the requester of the manner in which records are maintained by the public office and accessed in the ordinary course of the public office’s or person’s duties.
   (C)   If a request is ultimately denied, in part or in whole, the public office or the person responsible for the requested public record shall provide the requester with an explanation, including legal authority, setting forth why the request was denied. If the initial request was provided in writing, the explanation also shall be provided to the requester in writing. The explanation shall not preclude the public office or the person responsible for the requested public record from relying upon additional reasons or legal authority in defending an action commenced under R.C. § 149.43(C).
   (D)   Unless specifically required or authorized by state or federal law or in accordance this section, no public office or person responsible for public records may limit or condition the availability of public records by requiring disclosure of the requester’s identity or the intended use of the requested public record. Any requirement that the requester disclose the requester’s identity or the intended use of the requested public record constitutes a denial of the request.
   (E)   A public office or person responsible for public records may ask a requester to make the request in writing, may ask for the requester’s identity, and may inquire about the intended use of the information requested, but may do so only after disclosing to the requester that a written request is not mandatory and that the requester may decline to reveal the requester’s identity or the intended use and when a written request or disclosure of the identity or intended use would benefit the requester by enhancing the ability of the public office or person responsible for public records to identify, locate or deliver the public records sought by the requester.
   (F)   If any person requests a copy of a public record in accordance with this section, the public office or person responsible for the public record may require that person to pay in advance the cost involved in providing the copy of the public record in accordance with the choice made by the person requesting the copy under this division. The public office or the person responsible for the public record shall permit that person to choose to have the public record duplicated upon paper, upon the same medium upon which the public office or person responsible for the public record keeps it, or upon any other medium upon which the public office or person responsible for the public record determines that it reasonably can be duplicated as an integral part of the normal operations of the public office or person responsible for the public record. When the person requesting the copy makes a choice under this division, the public office or person responsible for the public record shall provide a copy of it in accordance with the choice made by that person. Nothing in this section requires a public office or person responsible for the public record to allow the person requesting a copy of the public record to make the copies of the public record.
   (G)   (1)   Upon a request made in accordance with this section and subject to division (F) of this section, a public office or person responsible for public records shall transmit a copy of a public record to any person by United States mail or by any other means of delivery or transmission within a reasonable period of time after receiving the request for the copy. The public office or person responsible for the public record may require the person making the request to pay in advance the cost of postage if the copy is transmitted by United States mail or the cost of delivery if the copy is transmitted other than by United States mail, and to pay in advance the costs incurred for other supplies used in the mailing, delivery or transmission.
      (2)   Any public office may adopt a policy and procedures that it will follow in transmitting, within a reasonable period of time after receiving a request, copies of public records by United States mail or by any other means of delivery or transmission pursuant to division (G) of this section. A public office that adopts a policy and procedures under division (G) of this section shall comply with them in performing its duties under that division.
      (3)   In any policy and procedures adopted under division (G) of this section:
         (a)   A public office may limit the number of records requested by a person that the office will physically deliver by United States mail or by another delivery service to ten per month, unless the person certifies to the office in writing that the person does not intend to use or forward the requested records, or the information contained in them, for commercial purposes.
         (b)   A public office that chooses to provide some or all of its public records on a web site that is fully accessible to and searchable by members of the public at all times, other than during acts of God outside the public office’s control or maintenance, and that charges no fee to search, access, download, or otherwise receive records provided on the web site, may limit to ten per month the number of records requested by a person that the office will deliver in a digital format, unless the requested records are not provided on the web site and unless the person certifies to the office in writing that the person does not intend to use or forward the requested records, or the information contained in them, for commercial purposes.
         (c)   For purposes of division (G) of this section, COMMERCIAL shall be narrowly construed and does not include reporting or gathering news, reporting or gathering information to assist citizen oversight or understanding the operation or activities of government, or nonprofit educational research.
   (H)   A public office or person responsible for public records is not required to permit a person who is incarcerated pursuant to a criminal conviction or a juvenile adjudication to inspect or to obtain a copy of any public record concerning a criminal investigation or prosecution or concerning what would be a criminal investigation or prosecution if the subject of the investigation or prosecution were an adult, unless the request to inspect or to obtain a copy of the record is for the purpose of acquiring information that is subject to release as a public record under this section and the judge who imposed the sentence or made the adjudication with respect to the person, or the judge’s successor in office, finds that the information sought in the public record is necessary to support what appears to be a justiciable claim of the person.
   (I)   (1)   Upon written request made and signed by a journalist, a public office, or person responsible for public records, having custody of the records of the agency employing a specified designated public service worker, as defined in R.C. § 149.43, shall disclose to the journalist the address of the actual personal residence of the designated public service worker and, if the designated public service worker’s spouse, former spouse or child is employed by a public office, the name and address of the employer of the designated public service worker’s spouse, former spouse or child. The request shall include the journalist’s name and title and the name and address of the journalist’s employer and shall state that disclosure of the information sought would be in the public interest.
      (2)   Division (I)(1) of this section also applies to journalist requests for:
         (a)   Customer information maintained by a municipally owned or operated public utility, other than social security numbers and any private financial information such as credit reports, payment methods, credit card numbers, and bank account information.
         (b)    Information about minors involved in a school vehicle accident as provided in division R.C. § 149.43(A)(1)(gg), other than personal information as defined in R.C. § 149.45.
      (3)   As used in this division (I), JOURNALIST means a person engaged in, connected with or employed by any news medium, including a newspaper, magazine, press association, news agency or wire service, a radio or television station, or a similar medium, for the purpose of gathering, processing, transmitting, compiling, editing or disseminating information for the general public.
   (J)   Upon a request made by a victim, victim’s attorney, or victim’s representative, as that term is used in R.C. § 2930.02, a public office or person responsible for public records shall transmit a copy of a depiction of the victim as described in R.C. § 149.43(A)(1)(gg) to the victim, victim’s attorney, or victim’s representative.
   (K)   (1)   To ensure that all employees of public offices are appropriately educated about a public office’s obligations under this section, all elected officials or their appropriate designees shall attend training approved by the Attorney General as provided in R.C. § 109.43. A future official may satisfy the requirements of this division by attending the training before taking office, provided that the future official may not send a designee in the future official’s place.
      (2)   All public offices shall adopt a public records policy in compliance with this section for responding to public records requests. In adopting a public records policy under this division, a public office may obtain guidance from the model public records policy developed and provided to the public office by the Attorney General under R.C. § 109.43. Except as otherwise provided in this section or R.C. § 149.43, the policy may not limit the number of public records that the public office will make available to a single person, may not limit the number of public records that it will make available during a fixed period of time, and may not establish a fixed period of time before it will respond to a request for inspection or copying of public records, unless that period is less than eight hours.
      (3)   The public office shall distribute the public records policy adopted by the public office under this division (K) to the employee of the public office who is the records custodian or records manager or otherwise has custody of the records of that office. The public office shall require that employee to acknowledge receipt of the copy of the public records policy. The public office shall create a poster that describes its public records policy and shall post the poster in a conspicuous place in the public office and in all locations where the public office has branch offices. The public office may post its public records policy on the internet web site of the public office if the public office maintains an internet web site. A public office that has established a manual or handbook of its general policies and procedures for all employees of the public office shall include the public records policy of the public office in the manual or handbook.
(R.C. § 149.43(B), (E)) (Rev. 2020)
Statutory reference:
    Availability and scope of public records; mandamus action to compel disclosure, see R.C. § 149.43
    Competitive bidding, public inspection and copying prohibited, see R.C. § 125.071