The Ohio Supreme Court has ruled that the Pike County General Health District wrongfully denied a newspaper reporter access to review, but not copy, preliminary autopsy reports of the 2016 murder of eight members of the Rhoden and Gilley families.
The Supreme Court reversed a Fourth District Court of Appeals decision in favor of Pike County officials, who claimed a reporter for the Cincinnati Enquirer was entitled only to a publicly released, heavily redacted version of the reports.
The county concealed information, citing two Ohio laws that exclude confidential law enforcement investigatory records from the public. The opinion noted that the newspaper requested to inspect records that are considered non-public.
The Court found that state law carves out an exception that allows a journalist to request the right to inspect “preliminary autopsy and investigative notes and findings, suicide notes, or photographs” made by the coroner or by anyone acting under the coroner’s direction.