Liberty trustees look to overturn court ruling on notes


By D. Anthony Botkin - abotkin@civitasmedia.com



Liberty Township’s attorneys Friday filed in the Ohio Fifth District Court of Appeals asking the court to overturn the Court of Claims’ judgment that the Duckett notes were public documents.

Stephanie Schoolcraft, attorney Fishel, Hass, Kim, Albrecht, asked the appellate court to review “whether the personal notes of a non-employee private citizen appointed pursuant to the Ohio Revised Code are public records even though the personal; notes were not provided to, maintained, or used by … Liberty Township.”

The Court of Claims ordered the release of the notes March 29 from Cincinnati attorney Douglas Duckett’s investigation into the conduct of former Fire Chief Tim Jensen.

Trustee Melanie Leneghan said trustees had discussed, in an executive session, filing the paperwork in the appellate court. She said since it is a legal matter there is no need for a public vote.

Leneghan did not agree with the Court of Claims Judge Patrick McGrath’s judgement.

“I don’t think that judge really looked into it to see how it works,” she said Monday.

Trustee Shyra Eichhorn agrees with Leneghan that filing the appeal is in the best interest of the township and its employees.

However, Eichhorn previously said, “We will absolutely comply with this ruling.”

According to both trustees, attorney costs for the Court of Claims and the Court of Appeals are covered by the township’s insurance.

“The insurer hired Fishel, Hass, Kim, Albrecht,” said Leneghan. “Our insurer will continue to pay the majority of this.”

Leneghan said it should not cost the township more than an additional $2,000.

Former fiscal officer Mark Gerber and resident Jim Hurt filed a claim with the Court of Claims Nov. 21 against the township after repeatedly being denied their request for the notes. Both have maintained that the notes are public record and should be released.

“I think they are continuing to waste taxpayers’ money,” said Gerber. “The Court of Claim’s order will hold strong.”

Leneghan and Eichhorn have maintained from the beginning that the township has never been in possession of Duckett’s notes.

Trustee Tom Mitchell could not be reached for comment Monday.

Jensen accepted a position as fire prevention officer as part of a settlement with the township in the fall of 2016.

By D. Anthony Botkin

abotkin@civitasmedia.com

D. Anthony Botkin may be reached at 740-413-0902 or on Twitter @dabotkin.

D. Anthony Botkin may be reached at 740-413-0902 or on Twitter @dabotkin.