Course description: Provides students an understanding of the legal foundations of public affairs.  Students use legal reasoning to examine and analyze the constraints imposed on public policy making and program management and implementation by the legal environment.

6010 was not an easy course, but it provided an essential foundation in administrative case law. Anyone who will be working in government or with government needs to know this information.  I’ve been running into the concepts covered in this course constantly as part of animal and environmental advocacy over the past several years, but taking this course has given me a much better grasp of why laws are the way they are and why court cases go the way they do.

One of the first assignments in the course was to make a public records request of a government agency. The professor provided us with a template, and we were to submit the request as part of learning public records law. This should have been pretty straightforward, but my request was not.

I submitted a request to the Ohio State Highway Patrol for records related to the deployment of 37 state troopers to North Dakota to assist in putting down protests of the Dakota Access Pipeline at the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation from October 29 to November 15, 2016.

Despite the specificity of the deployment location and dates, my request was denied on the grounds that it was too broad. I was in good company: Requests from both the Columbus Dispatch and Cincinnati Enquirer have been denied as well.

In researching how to respond to this, I found that citizens can file complaints about denials of access to public records with the Ohio Court of Claims, so I did that. That was the start of a process that lasted through the entire semester and into the summer. Read more on my blog