December 22, 2023 – Incarcerated person Troy Lee Keith Sr. has filed a writ of mandamus with the Ohio Supreme Court seeking to compel Butler County Common Pleas Court Judge J. Gregory Howard to rule on his outstanding public records request.

Keith, who is currently serving time at London Correctional Institution, submitted a request on October 31, 2022, to Judge Howard asking for permission to access documents from Franklin County regarding a separate criminal case involving Paul R. Hairston Jr. In his application, Keith explained he believes the records from Hairston’s case contain exculpatory evidence relevant to his own conviction in Butler County for engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity and other charges.

However, according to the docket summary provided by Keith, Judge Howard has not issued a ruling on the public records request. Keith argues this delay is unreasonable and in violation of Judge Howard’s duty under the law. He is asking the Supreme Court to compel Judge Howard to promptly grant permission to access the Franklin County records.

Keith maintains he was wrongly convicted without being given access to all relevant evidence. The documents from Hairston’s Franklin County prosecution are important to exonerate him, Keith claims because Hairston and the business entities they were both allegedly involved in were listed in his Butler County indictment.

If the high court determines Judge Howard or the court failed in their obligation to timely handle the public records matter, Keith is also seeking an award of statutory damages against the judge. He stressed citizens have a right under law to access public records without undue delay. The case will now be reviewed by the Ohio Supreme Court.

Judge Howard became a judge in the Butler County Common Pleas Court in February 2017. He started his law career in 1987 after graduating from the Salmon P. Chase College of Law with a Juris Doctor degree.

A copy of the original filing can be found here.