Ohio Opens Mediation for Public Records Requests
The Ohio Attorney General's office just put mediation on the board when it comes to public records requests. Previously, citizens and journalists often felt inclined to contact a mediation attorney, trial attorney, or the ACLU when they had problems getting the records they wanted. And everyone seems to feel hopeful about the program.
Ohio Attorney General's Office Institutes Mediation Services
The Ohio Newspaper Association spoke out in praise of the new move, which it says will speed up acquisitions by journalists. Ohio ACLU director Gary Daniels also applauded the Attorney General's move, saying that citizens should not have to contact a lawyer or the ACLU to access what he coined "the people's records."
Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine says that the mediation program should eliminate headaches and wasted time on both sides. DeWine states that record complications will be straightened out faster via mediation than by having to go to court.
The chief problem with journalists and other citizens obtaining records isn't that the government wants to keep it citizens in the dark, says DeWine. He says the main problem is when citizens aren't precisely sure what they are looking for, so they make a "shotgun-type" request that burdens government offices.
It is a situation that can be extremely troublesome for citizen and government alike.
How the New Mediation Measure Helps Everyone
Mediation will help citizens figure out precisely what information they are really after, the Ohio Attorney General's office said in a statement. A public official can request mediation services if he or she feels the request is overly broad (and therefore crushing).
Citizens can also request the service in order to determine if the information they're looking for is a matter of public record. The service should also help people figure out how long they should reasonably expect to wait for the information, DeWines said.
The mediation services are available free to citizens. The attorney general's office says that the efforts should save government offices time and money. The office says there are currently no plans to hire a mediation attorney or mediation lawyers for the program.