September 16, 2004

CLEVELAND- Today, the American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio Foundation filed a Writ of Mandamus in the Court of Appeals for the Eighth Appellate District in Cuyahoga County seeking various jury records. The ACLU of Ohio Foundation is representing Dr. Thomas Brewer, a professor in the Department of Justice Studies at Kent State University. Defendants include Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court Judge Richard McMonagle, Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Clerk of Courts Gerald Fuerst, and two Jury Commissioners.

Dr. Brewer is the coordinator of a statewide research project conducted by the Ohio Capital Jury Project centered at the Department of Justice Studies at KSU. One goal of the Project is aimed at addressing a research question posed by the Ohio Commission on Racial Fairness relating to the treatment and perception of minority jurors who have served in capital cases in Ohio courts, including Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court.

Dr. Brewer has spent several months requesting these records from court personnel across Ohio. He has been able to obtain records from every county he has approached with the exception of Cuyahoga County.

"Freedom of access to court records is an important right guaranteed by the U.S. and Ohio Constitutions," said ACLU of Ohio Volunteer Attorney Michael Honohan. "We hoped this matter could be resolved without litigation. When it became obvious that it couldn't, we were forced to file suit," added Honohan.