YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – Ohio appellate judges will hear arguments on Thursday about whether a surveillance video showing a county judge being shot and wounded is a public record and should be released to The Associated Press.
The Seventh District Court of Appeals in Youngstown is holding the hearing after Jefferson County Prosecutor Jane Hanlin objected to a decision by the Ohio Court of Claims that the video should be released.
Jefferson County Judge Joseph Bruzzese Jr. was shot outside a Steubenville courthouse in August 2017 by 51-year-old Nathaniel Richmond, who was then killed by a probation officer. Richmond had a pending wrongful death lawsuit in front of Bruzzese at the time. Bruzzese recovered and has returned to the bench.
Steubenville is roughly 30 miles (48 kilometers) west of Pittsburgh.
The AP subsequently requested a copy of the surveillance video recorded by a camera in front of the courthouse showing the shootings and the aftermath. Hanlin denied the request, saying the video shows sensitive courthouse infrastructure and is a security record, which exempts it from public disclosure under Ohio law because it involves direct threats against court officials and is needed to protect the safety of judicial officials and their staffs.
Attorneys for the AP disagreed and asked the Court of Claims to overturn Hanlin's decision. A special master considered arguments from both sides and recommended that Judge Patrick McGrath overrule Hanlin's objections.
McGrath wrote the video is not a security record because it doesn't contain information used to protect a public office from "attack, interference or sabotage."
No decision is expected for several weeks.