COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — The Ohio Supreme Court on Wednesday scheduled oral arguments in an appeal by The Associated Press of a ruling that prevented the release of surveillance video showing a judge being shot and wounded at a courthouse.
The state’s high court had previously decided to hear the AP’s appeal of a September 2019 decision by a three-judge panel with the 7th District Court of Appeals in Youngstown. That ruling determined the video is exempt from being released under Ohio public record laws as part of the courthouse’s security measures.
The court set oral arguments for July 21. It’s uncertain if they will happen in-person in Columbus or via video teleconferencing because of the coronavirus pandemic.
The video shows Jefferson County Judge Joseph Bruzzese Jr. being shot outside a Steubenville courthouse in August 2017 by 51-year-old Nathaniel Richmond, and then Richmond being killed by a probation officer. Richmond had a pending wrongful death lawsuit in front of Bruzzese at the time. The judge recovered and returned to the bench.
The AP requested a copy of the surveillance video recorded by a camera positioned in front of the courthouse, but Jefferson County Prosecutor Jane Hanlin denied that request.
Hanlin argued that releasing the video could endanger lives of judges and their staffs. The AP’s attorney argued that Ohio case law is clear that the video is a public record, as the Ohio Court of Claims previously ruled, and should be released.
The Court of Claims determined in February 2019 that the video doesn’t contain information used to protect a public office from “attack, interference or sabotage.”