The Ohio Supreme Court addressed the issue of expungement and record sealing in 2013 in Schussheim v. Schussheim. Specifically, the Court was asked to address whether a trial court has the authority to seal records relating to a dissolved civil protection order (CPO) without express statutory authority to do so.
In Schussheim, Michelle Henneman, f.k.a. Michelle Schussheim filed a petition for domestic violence CPO against her husband. The CPO was granted at an ex parte hearing the day it was filed and a full hearing was held eight days later. Shortly thereafter, Henneman moved to dissolve the CPO. The trial court dismissed the case and dissolved the CPO.
Two years later, Schussheim moved to expunge and sealed the record of the CPO proceedings. He argued that he and his wife were going through a divorce at the time of the CPO, he was never charged with domestic violence, and that the existence of the record violated his constitutional rights to privacy and could have adverse effects on his employment. Moreover, Henneman filed an affidavit supporting Schussheim’s application.
The application was denied due to a lack of statutory authority, even though the Ohio Supreme Court held in Pepper Pike v. Doe recognized that courts have inherent authority to grant the judicial remedy of expungement and sealing of records in “unusual and exceptional circumstances.” Furthermore, under the balancing test in Doe, sealing of the record would be inappropriate.
Pepper Pike Balancing Test
The State of Ohio charged a person with assault based upon statements made by her ex-husband and the wife of her ex-husband. A civil complaint for defamation was then filed. The parties agreed to dismiss the assault charge in exchange for the dismissal of the civil defamation action. The person then sought expungement of the record relating to the assault charge.
At the time of Pepper Pike, a person could seek expungement and sealing of criminal records of conviction, but no statute allowed for expungement and record sealing for records of those charged with, but not convicted of, a criminal offense. Pepper Pike established a balancing test requiring courts to weight the “interest of the accused in his good name and right to be free from unwarranted punishment against the legitimate need of government to maintain records.”
Balancing Test for Sealing the Records of CPO Proceedings in Ohio
In Schussheim, the Ohio Supreme Court ruled that similar to Pepper Pike, no statutory authorization existed for the court to expunge and seal records related to CPO proceedings. However, the Court held that a trial court has inherent authority to order the expungement and sealing of records that related to a CPO in “unusual and exceptional circumstances.”
In deciding whether to grant the remedy, the court must determine whether the interest of the accused outweighs the legitimate need of the government in maintaining those records. Where there is no compelling state interest, the applicant is entitled to the remedy.
For Schussheim, the fact that Henneman supported his application for expungement and record sealing and no criminal charges were filed were significant factors to be considered by the Court. Whether a proceeding is criminal or civil does not determine whether a record can be expunged and sealed.
Columbus and Delaware, Ohio Expungement and Record Sealing Attorney
If you have previous criminal offenses that you wish to have expunged and sealed in Columbus or Delaware, Ohio, call Johnson Legal, LLC at (614) 987-0192 and speak with Attorney David Johnson. As an experienced Columbus and Delaware, Ohio criminal defense attorney, Attorney Johnson will discuss with you your previous criminal convictions, whether you meet the requirements of an “eligible offender,” and assist you with the process of expungement and record sealing.