Court News Ohio
Court News Ohio
Court News Ohio

Newspaper’s Appeal for Unredacted Juvenile Court Records Is Moot

The Ohio Supreme Court today dismissed an appeal from a Cincinnati newspaper requesting versions of Hamilton County Juvenile Court Judge Tracie Hunter’s docket that included the full names of the juveniles appearing in the judge’s courtroom in December 2012.

In a 7-0 decision, the Supreme Court determined that the Cincinnati Enquirer’s request to order Hunter to provide the records is moot because she no longer has control over the court documents requested and cannot provide access to the records. (A trial court sentenced Hunter in early December to six months in prison following her felony conviction for having an unlawful interest in a public contract.)

After the Enquirer received only the initials, rather than the full names, of the minors on Hunter’s docket, the newspaper asked the First District Court of Appeals for a writ of mandamus. In October 2013, the appeals court ordered Hunter to produce her docket without the names redacted. Hunter appealed to the Ohio Supreme Court. However, on January 14, 2014, the court disqualified her from acting as a judge after she was indicted on eight felony counts.

Actions are moot “‘when they are or have become fictitious, colorable, hypothetical, academic or dead,” the court explained, quoting a 1948 appeals court case. “The distinguishing characteristic of such issues is that they involve no actual genuine, live controversy, the decision of which can definitely affect existing legal relations.’”

A live controversy no longer exists in this action, and the dispute has become hypothetical, academic, and dead, the court concluded in the per curiam opinion.

2013-1694. State ex rel. Cincinnati Enquirer v. Hunter, Slip Opinion No. 2014-Ohio-5457.

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