In Small Ohio College Towns, Many Student Convictions Are Sealed


Judges in small Ohio college towns routinely seal from public sight the criminal convictions of university students convicted of such things as underage drinking and petty crimes like disorderly conduct, reports the Cincinnati Enquirer. The paper’s analysis of court records in several Ohio college towns showed an unusually high number of cases being sealed compared with courts in large metro areas where a college is just one thread in the overall fabric of the community.

Christo Lassiter, a law professor at the University of Cincinnati, questions whether students in towns dominated by a college are getting preferential treatment or are they just working the system. “To some extent, Miami students have a pipeline. You find out what works and you do it. They've figured it out,” Lassiter said. “It could be just the pipeline, or it could be the fact that these people do have the money to go to a lawyer.” In Bowling Green Municipal Court, one in six misdemeanor cases is sealed. At municipal court in Athens County – the home of Ohio University – a third of the cases are kept secret. In the Portage County Municipal Court, where Kent State University sits, 22 percent of the misdemeanor cases were sealed last year. By comparison, larger metro area courts seal a much smaller proportion of misdemeanor cases. For instance, the court that handles cases involving University of Dayton students sealed 3.5 percent in 2012.

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