Columbus police should open records in closed cases, lawyer tells Ohio Supreme Court

From The Columbus Dispatch The refusal of Columbus police to release records underlying closed criminal cases could keep the innocent in prison and the true killers walking the streets, the Ohio Supreme Court was told Wednesday.

Past court decisions on which Columbus police rely to deny records should be overturned because a 2010 change in criminal discovery rules gave defendants expanded access to records held by police and prosecutors, Columbus lawyer Fred Gittes argued.

Gittes represents Donald Caster, an Innocence Project lawyer who claims that police violated public-records laws by refusing to release records in the case of Adam Saleh, who was convicted of the 2005 murder of Julie Popovich, 20, of Reynoldsburg.

Columbus police refused to release the case file, arguing that court decisions forbid the release of records as long as defendants have potential appeals, which generally can be filed anytime. Defendants also must use discovery rules, rather than records laws, to obtain records in their cases.

The Innocence Project, private investigators, journalists and others have an interest in obtaining criminal case files, with their work sometimes freeing the wrongly convicted or identifying true perpetrators, Gittes said.

Continue Reading>>