Huron County Clerk of Courts
September 28, 2007
PUBLIC RECORDS POLICY
It is the policy of Susan Hazel,
Huron County Clerk of Courts office that openness leads to a better
informed citizenry, which leads to better government and better public
policy. It is the policy of the Huron County Clerk of Courts’ office to
strictly adhere to the state’s Public Records Act. All exemptions to
openness are to be construed in their narrowest sense and any denial of
public records in response to a valid request must be accompanied by an
explanation, including legal authority, as outlined in the Ohio Revised
Code. If the request is in writing, the explanation must also be
Section 1. Public
This office, in accordance with the
Ohio Revised Code, defines records as including the following: Any
document – paper, electronic (including, but not limited to, e-mail),
or other format – that is created or received by, or comes under the
jurisdiction of a public office that documents the organization,
functions, policies, decisions, procedures, operations, or other
activities of the office. All records of Susan Hazel, Huron
County Clerk of Courts’ office are public unless they are specifically
exempt from disclosure under the Ohio Revised Code. Records such as
social security numbers are considered by the Federal law and the Ohio
Attorney General to be private information and public record.
It is the policy of Susan Hazel,
Huron County Clerk of Courts’ office that,
as required by Ohio law, records will be organized and maintained so
that they are readily available for inspection and copying (See Section
4 for the e-mail record policy). The Clerk’s records retention schedule
shall follow the Ohio Supreme Court’s Rules of Superintendence.
Section 2. Record
Each request for public records
should be evaluated for a response using the following guidelines:
Although no specific language is
required to make a request, the requester must at least identify the
records requested with sufficient clarity to allow the public office to
identify, retrieve, and review the records. If it is not clear what
records are being sought, the records custodian shall contact the
requester for clarification, and should assist the requestor in
revising the request by informing the requestor of the manner in which
the office keeps its records.
The requester does not have to put a
records request in writing, and does not have to provide his or her
identity or the intended use of the requested public record. It is this
office’s general policy that this information is not to be
Public records are to be available
for inspection during regular business hours, with the exception of
published holidays. Public records will be made available for
inspection promptly. Copies of public records will be made available
within a reasonable period of time. “Prompt” and “reasonable” take into
account the volume of records requested; the proximity of the location
where the records are stored; and the necessity for any legal review of
the records requested.
Each request should be evaluated for
an estimated length of time required to gather the records. Routine
requests for records should be satisfied immediately if feasible to do
so. Routine requests include, but are not limited to, meeting minutes
(both in draft and final form), budgets, salary information, forms and
applications, personnel rosters, etc. If fewer than 20 pages of copies
are requested or if the records are readily available in an electronic
format that can be e-mailed or downloaded easily, these should be made
as quickly as the equipment allows.
All requests for public records
should either be satisfied (see Section 2.4) or be acknowledged in
writing by the (public office) within three business days following the
office’s receipt of the request. If a request is deemed significantly
beyond “routine,” such as seeking a voluminous number of copies or
requiring extensive research, the acknowledgment should include the
Section 2.4a – An estimated number of business days it
will take to satisfy the request.
Section 2.4b – An estimated cost if copies are requested.
Section 2.4c – Any items within the request that may be
exempt from disclosure.
Any denial of public records
requested should include an explanation, including legal authority. If
portions of a record are public and portions are exempt, the exempt
portions are to be redacted and the rest released. If there are
redactions, each redaction should be accompanied by a supporting
explanation, including legal authority.
Section 3. Costs for
Those seeking public records will be
charged only the actual cost of making copies.
Section 3.1 The charge for paper copies is 10 cents per
Section 3.2 The charge for downloaded computer files to a
compact disc is $1 per disc.
Section 3.3 The charge for electronic transfer of
records is 10 cents per page.
Requesters may ask that documents be
mailed to them. They will be charged the actual cost of the postage and
Section 4. E-mail
Documents in electronic mail format
are records as defined by the Ohio Revised Code when their content
relates to the business of the office. E-mail is to be treated in the
same fashion as records in other formats and should follow the same
Section 4.1 – Records in private e-mail accounts used to
conduct public business are subject to disclosure, and all employees or
representatives of this office are instructed to retain their e-mails
that relate to public business (see Section 1 Public Records) and to
copy them to their business e-mail accounts and/or to the office’s
Section 4.2 – The records custodian is to treat the
e-mails from private accounts as records of the public office, filing
them in the appropriate way, retaining them per established schedules
and making them available for inspection and copying in accordance with
the Public Records Act.
Section 5. Failure to
respond to a public records request
Susan Hazel, Huron County Clerk of
Courts’ office recognizes the legal and non-legal consequences of
failure to properly respond to a public records request. In
addition to the distrust in government that failure to comply may
cause, the Huron County Clerk of Courts’ failure to comply with a
request may result in a court ordering the Huron County Clerk of
Courts’ office to comply with the law and to pay the requester
attorney’s fees and damages.