"Justice is never advanced in the taking of a human life."
Coretta Scot King

Record Request Contacts and Forms

Ohio Department of Youth Services (all Ohio state Juvenile Facilities)

Main Office
30 W. Spring Street, Columbus, Ohio 43215
614-466-8096 (general number)

*Court Order required to obtain Department of Youth Services records.
*ODYS maintains education records, but does not maintain any other records (including medical) for very long.
National Archives and Records Administration

Under Resources
Military and Civilian Personnel Records
Under Military
Military Record Requests SF-180
Complete Standard Form (SF-180)

Social Security Administration


Under Resources
Click on Forms (scroll to the box titles Other SSA Forms)
Click on Consent to Release of Information (form ssa-3288)(to obtain records on client who filed claim or received social security payments)

Or, Request for Social Security Earnings Information (form ssa-7050) (to obtain records on client’s earnings paid into social security)

Records Checklist for Capital Case Life History Investigation

This is only a preliminary list of essential records to obtain. Each record and document will have information that will lead to additional records and documents that you will need to obtain.
Have your client and his family members sign both the general release form and the HIPPA release form, at your first interview with them. You will need their dates of birth, social security numbers, and all names previously used. Also obtain signed release forms from your client’s parents, siblings, and extended family members, as needed.

Birth certificates  Obtain birth certificates for client, siblings, parents, children, spouse, significant others.  Available from Department of Vital Statistics in each state or in county of birth. Ohio Vital Statistics has a specific form to complete when requesting a birth certificate, and a $21.50 fee is charged for a certified copy:

In Ohio, birth certificates are public record. In some states, birth certificates are not considered public record, and only the parents and child can obtain the certificate.

Client and their parents’ marriage certificates Obtain marriage licenses for all marriages of client and their parents. (County Clerk of Court) (Public record in Ohio)

Client and their parents’ divorce records  Obtain complete divorce records for all divorces of client and their parents. Complete file should include financial statements, initial filing, final decree, child support orders, custody decrees, peace bonds, and temporary restraining orders. (County Clerk of Court) (Public record in Ohio) Also suggest obtaining attorney files for these divorces. (Requires release from client and/or parent(s).)

Death certificates and death records  Obtain death certificate for any family member who died. Death certificates are public record and can be obtained from the county where the individual died or State Vital Statistics Department in state where individual died.  A $21.50 fee is required to obtain a certified copy in Ohio: In some instances, you may want to obtain the autopsy and hospital records for family members who died. The hospital records will require a HIPPA release from next of kin. Also obtain copy of obituary for family members and close friends of client who are deceased.  If a will or probate court documents exist on estate of parents or grandparents, obtain those as well.
Birth records  Obtain client’s birth records from hospital and physicians, including mother’s prenatal care for client and siblings. Obtain your client’s birth records by requesting your client’s records and his/her mother’s records of the birth as well. (Requires HIPPA release.) Suggest obtaining birth records of client’s siblings.

Early childhood medical records, including family physician records, should be obtained.  If there is no family physician, check public clinics in communities where family lived for all family medical records.  Check every hospital in areas where family lived; look especially for emergency room records for client, client’s mother (battering incidents), and client’s siblings.  Look for head trauma and signs of abuse and/or neglect. (Requires HIPPA release.)

Medical records  Obtain medical records for any in-patient or out-patient hospitalization or hospital emergency room treatment regarding the client.  Always check emergency rooms, hospitals, and medical clinics in every geographic area where client lived.  Ask specifically for films of any x-rays, CT scans, or MRIs, as well as narrative reports.  Obtain records from family doctor, clinics and/or treatment by other medical specialists. It is important to look for head trauma, especially loss of consciousness. (Requires HIPPA release.) In certain instances, such as the client’s parent or sibling being seriously ill, chronically ill, or handicapped, medical records regarding that individual should be collected.
School records  Obtain records from each school (elementary, middle, high school, private and public) attended and pre-schools/head start, as well as records the school boards may have.  Most of the time, all of the records will be housed at the last school the client attended, but to be safe, request from all schools attended. Ask school board or schools if outside private or public agencies conducted psychological evaluations or special testing. If so, contact those agencies and obtain their records. Some schools maintain psychological, learning disability, and testing information separate from the rest of the records, so ask if certain records are located elsewhere. Review school yearbooks and publications for information on the client and their siblings. Contact school advisers, coaches, etc. for any extra-curricular activities in which your client was a participant.

Adult education  Obtain records from Job Corps, Urban League, private agencies, technological and community colleges, and GED programs, plus public and private colleges.
Drug/alcohol treatment records  Obtain any records from local substance abuse programs, community-based treatment centers, and hospitals regarding substance abuse treatment. Review criminal record history for drug/alcohol-related offenses and court-ordered treatment. (A HIPPA release is required to obtain substance abuse treatment records.)

Mental health facilities  Obtain records from hospitals and mental health agencies for mental health treatment or psychiatric hospitalization on client and immediate family or any other family members who have had mental health treatment. Obtain all information including, diagnosis, medication, treatment plan, assessments, progress notes, and nursing notes. (Will require a HIPPA release)

Social service agencies  Obtain records on AFDC payments from county welfare department and from children services agency. Obtain information on home studies, referrals for testing and counseling, intervention, placement in foster homes, and termination of parental rights. Children Services files usually require a court order to obtain. Remember to include in court order your client’s name, their parents’ names, siblings, and possibly grandparents if there has been a long family history of involvement with children services. Welfare records can be obtained with a general release form of client and parent.

Private social service agencies  Contact Catholic Social Services, Lutheran Social Services, private juvenile shelters, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Boys’ Clubs, YMCA programs, and other private agencies for any records on client or siblings. If they can be located, interview professionals in these agencies who had contact with your client and their family.
Employment records  For each place of employment (as juvenile and adult, full-time and part-time), request information on employment dates, work position description, initial employment paperwork, salary, work accidents, attendance, performance evaluations, job training programs, name of supervisor/owner, and reason for leaving/firing.

Social Security Records  Obtain a record of social security payments from the various jobs your client has worked. (Remember that some employers in areas such as construction and seasonal work may not take out social security or taxes, so there will not be a record of that employment with this office.) This record will assist in tracking client’s work history. A specific form must be completed and the cost depends upon the number of years to be searched. Forms available on Social Security website:

As applicable, also obtain records if your client received social security benefits due to a disability (i.e. mental retardation), applied for social security, or received social security death benefits if their parent died before the client turned 18. A specific form must be used to obtain these records.

Religious institutions  Contact churches and church groups with whom your client and their family had contact to obtain information about the client and their family. Obtain name of clergy, volunteer staff, and/or youth group leaders currently and at the time the family had contact. Interview church members, volunteers, and clergy who had contact with your client and their family.

Military  Obtain client’s military records (complete file) and military records of family members, including parents, siblings, aunts and uncles, or any family member who served in armed forces. Obtain information on branch of military, date and place of enlistment, rank achieved, places stationed, commanding officer names, honors, medals, discipline, counseling, psychological, hospitalization and medical. The signature of the person whose record you are requesting is required on a specific form to request these records. Medical records on family members of military personnel can be obtained as well. A separate release form is required for this request. Forms can be obtain at U.S. National Archives and Records Administration website:

Guardianship, Adoption and Foster Care  Try to obtain any of these records if they pertain to your client.  Foster care records, adoption, and guardianship information should all be in the Children Services file, unless the adoption was private. (Children Services records require a court order to obtain.) Guardianship information may be in the county family and juvenile court files. (A court order is required to obtain court records.) The procedure to obtain adoption records varies depending upon the date of the adoption. See Ohio Department of Health website for details:

Miscellaneous Groups  Obtain information about your client’s involvement in any organized activity such as fraternal organizations, charity organizations, sports teams, political organizations, AA, and NA. Contact these groups directly to obtain records and names of people who had contact with your client for interviews. To obtain any information about your client’s involvement with AA or NA, a release from your client may be necessary, since NA and AA often maintain confidentiality.