Attorney John C. "Jack" Greiner sees himself in a unique position: Employed at a private law firm, working for private clients, but at the same time, getting to serve the public and the public interest.

"I really think the public has the right to know governmental information, that openness in government is best," says the partner at Graydon Head & Ritchey LLP, whose practice includes First Amendment and media law. "Bad things happen when government isn't transparent."

Greiner's philosophy on public records has led him to represent such varied clients as the Cincinnati Enquirer, Courthouse News Service and Regent Communications. In the case of the Enquirer, a recent case involved the city withholding lead citations issued to property owners. "The reporter, Sherry Coolidge, requested that information. The health department refused, saying these were confidential medical records.

"We took it ultimately to the Ohio Supreme Court, and the court ruled that Ohio Public Records Law took precedence," Greiner continues of the two-year legal battle. "Once the records were produced, the Enquirer was able to run a very lengthy article." The story, headlined "Lead's Dangerous Legacy: Kids Poisoned by Their Homes," appeared in June and documented the city's failure to prosecute landlords who were leaving families exposed to a toxic hazard"”lead-based paints.

"Actions are now being taken, and good things are happening."

In another recent development, Greiner hit the front pages after he asked the Ohio Supreme Court to hear oral arguments that could require the state to reveal the identities of foster parents who are paid to look after children in trouble. This followed the death of 3-year-old Marcus Fiesel, who resided in such a home. "If (foster parents) are going to seek certification and the taxpayer money they get, it seems to me it's not asking too much for the public to know who these people are."

All this talk of lawsuits aside, Greiner believes that"”often"”the best offense is no offense. "I think I've evolved. I've done this for 20 some years, and now believe it's actually a little more effective to be collaborative than combative. This is ultimately better for the client, when I can pick up a phone and get results for a client without filing suit."

By way of example, Greiner points to a recent request for a search warrant in Clermont County. (Search warrants are generally considered public as part of the court record.) "I happened to know the prosecutor out there pretty well, so I called and explained our position. Ultimately, we were able to get it."

The native Cincinnatian"”who announces in his own official bio that his guilty pleasures include LaRosa's pizza and Skyline Chili"”attended Miami University and earned his J.D. in 1983 from the University of Notre Dame. In 2005, Gov. Taft appointed Greiner to the statewide Ohio Privacy/Public Records Access Study Committee.
Greiner lives in Cincinnati with his wife, Kathy, and four children, Katie, Joe, Ben and Ellie.