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City of Toledo seeks to drop appeal against The Blade over gang map

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    Roshawn Jones, owner of Soul City Boxing, analyzes the differences between the gang maps produced by The Toledo Blade and the City of Toledo.

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Toledo gang map provided to The Blade by a source.

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The Bell administration today sent a motion to dismiss its appeal against The Blade's successful lawsuit filed last year in an attempt to inspect the city's police gang map.

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The motion, which City Law Director Adam Loukx said he mailed today to the Supreme Court of Ohio, ends a year-long legal battle between the newspaper and the city. The motion to dismiss came the day after The Blade obtained a copy of the map, which Mayor Mike Bell had refused for a month to make available for public inspection.

The motion to dismiss verifies that the newspaper obtained an authentic copy of the department's map.

The gang map was given to The Blade by a source who is neither a representative of the police department nor the city law department. Citing an ongoing lawsuit, Toledo police and city officials declined to comment on Monday, or to review the map obtained by The Blade.

In July 2012, The Blade sued the city in the state's 6th District Court of Appeals for refusing to release the police department's gang map. In a 2-1 decision on July 12, the court granted The Blade's request.

John Robinson Block, publisher and editor-in-chief of The Blade, said the city should have taken this action sooner.

"We were always confident about the strength of our legal position that the city was obligated to give us the gang map," Mr. Block said. "They didn't do this out of the goodness of their heart. The public can now see that there was no reason for the city to withhold it."

The motion to dismiss states: "At issue was the city’s refusal to provide [The Blade] with a document prepared by a Toledo police detective and referred to as a 'gang map.' The city refused to provide the map as it believed the map was a confidential law enforcement investigatory record and, thus, not a public record under Ohio law."

Since the map was printed in The Blade today, the city dropped its appeal.

“While, arguably, important legal questions remain that are capable of repetition yet evading review, [the city] believes that the publication of the requested record moots the underlying issue before this court," the motion states. “Accordingly, dismissal of this action is appropriate at this time.”

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