REGISTER VIEWPOINT: State top court's all lawyered up

Local and state officials regularly overlook the fine details of the state's Sunshine Laws, which are designed to guarantee open gov
Sandusky Register Staff
May 13, 2010

 

Local and state officials regularly overlook the fine details of the state's Sunshine Laws, which are designed to guarantee open government. The state's court system not only encourages secrecy, it promotes it.

Jonathan Coughlan, the high court's disciplinary counsel, recently said complaints to his office are made public only if the court investigates and certifies the complaint, a process that can take about eight months. Coughlan said the disciplinary counsel receives about 3,200 grievances a year. Only about 40 complaints make it to a formal filing.

Based on that figure, the court policy appears to be to destroy, without comment or record, 3,160 complaints every year.

The state's attorney general's office follows similar practices of withholding rather than releasing public documents to the public upon request. The governor's office, which has the authority to intervene, is steeped in tax and spend issues and slow to act on matters of corruption. State lawmakers don't seem capable of decisive action or leadership.

In other words, we're up the creek without a paddle.

The state's high court must reform itself and reverse its closed-door policy. The attorney general's office must do the same. Ohioans will not be served by either branch -- or any branch of government that lacks the courage to play straight with its constituents.