Articles Posted in Supreme Court of Ohio

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The Supreme Court affirmed the conviction and death sentence of Appellant, who murdered his mother, but reversed an aggravated robbery charge against him that was used as one of three specifications supporting the prosecution’s effort to seek the death penalty. The Supreme Court held (1) the trial court did not err in overruling Defendant’s motion to suppress; (2) no prejudicial error occurred during jury selection; (3) the trial court erred in admitting certain other acts evidence, but the errors were harmless; (4) the prosecutor did not commit misconduct during closing argument; (5) Defendant’s sentence was appropriate; (6) any error on the part of defense counsel during the penalty phase was harmless; (7) cumulative errors did not render Defendant’s trial unfair; and (8) the evidence failed to support the finding that Defendant “deprived” the victim of property or that Defendant’s “purpose” was to deprive the victim of the property at issue. View "State v. Tench" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court answered a certified question from the Unitde States District Court by holding that Ohio Rev. Code 4123.35(O) is not unconstitutional as applied to the tort claims of an enrolled subcontractor’s employee who is injured while working on a self-insured construction project and whose injury is compensable under Ohio’s workers’ compensation laws. Daniel Stolz was injured while working as a concrete finisher for Jostin Construction. Jostin was a subcontractor of Messer Construction Company, the general contractor for the project. Under section 4123.35(O), Messer provided workers’ compensation coverage on the project for employees of subcontractors like Jostin that chose to enroll in Messer’s self-insurance plan. Stolz eventually sued Messer and several subcontractors for negligence. Messer and three enrolled subcontractors argued that they were immune from liability under section 4123.35(O). The Supreme Court concluded that the statute provides immunity to both general contractors and enrolled subcontractors from tort claims brought by employees of other enrolled subcontractors. Stolz later amended his complaint to allege that section 4123.35(O) is unconstitutional. The enrolled subcontractors petitioned the district court to certify a question of state law to the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court answered that section 4123.35(O) does not violate the Ohio Constitution’s right-to-remedy, right-to-jury, or equal-protection provisions. View "Stolz v. J & B Steel Erectors, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the court of appeals reversing Defendant’s conviction and discharging him from further prosecution after the trial court accepted Defendant’s plea of no contest to a charge of cruelty to animals and finding Defendant guilty but neglecting to ask for an explanation of the circumstances, holding that the Double Jeopardy Clause did not bar Defendant’s retrial. On appeal, Defendant argued that the trial court erred by failing to obtain an explanation of the circumstances before finding him guilty. The court of appeals agreed, reversed Defendant’s conviction and, reasoning that the reversal was based on insufficient evidence, concluded that jeopardy had attached and barred further proceedings against Defendant. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the reversal of Defendant’s conviction was not based on insufficiency of the evidence, but, rather, on a procedural error; and (2) therefore, the double jeopardy protection did not bar Defendant’s retrial. View "Girard v. Giordano" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the court of appeals dismissing Appellant’s petition for a writ of habeas corpus, holding that the court of appeals properly dismissed Appellant’s petition for failure to attach the statement of his inmate account that is required by Ohio Rev. Code 2969.25(C). The court of appeals sua sponte dismissed Appellant’s petition due to his failure to abide by the mandatory filing requirements of section 2969.25. On appeal, Appellant argued that the Court should excuse his noncompliance with the technical requirements of the statute and challenged the constitutionality of the statute on its face and as applied. The Supreme Court rejected Appellant’s arguments on appeal, holding that Appellant’s petition for a writ of habeas corpus was properly dismissed. View "Rogers v. Eppinger" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the Court of Appeals affirming the trial court’s suppression of 150 individually wrapped pieces of marijuana-infused candy contained in two sealed Priority Mail envelopes located inside an open box on the back seat of Defendant’s vehicle during a traffic stop, holding that the search of the envelopes and the duration of the traffic stop were not in violation of Defendant’s constitutional rights. Specifically, the Court held that after finding marijuana and other drug paraphernalia in Defendant’s car, the arresting officer had probable cause to open the envelopes and had the right to detain Defendant for as long as reasonably necessary to complete the search of the vehicle. View "State v. Vega" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant’s conviction of aggravated murder and sentence of death, imposed after the case was remanded for resentencing, holding that none of Defendant’s propositions of law on appeal warranted reversal. Specifically, the Court held (1) the trial court did not err when it excluded testimony that Defendant sought to present as additional mitigating evidence in the time between the two sentencing hearings; (2) the trial court did not violate Defendant’s due process rights by refusing to empanel a new jury for the resentencing hearing; (3) trial counsel did not provide ineffective assistance at the resentencing hearing; (4) Defendant was not denied the opportunity to deny or explain evidence at the resentencing hearing; and (5) Defendant’s sentence of death was appropriate and proportional. View "State v. Goff" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court held that using a prior juvenile adjudication of delinquency for the commission of an offense that would have been felonious assault if committed by an adult as an element of the offense of having a weapon under disability, as set forth in Ohio Rev. Code 2923.13(A)(2), does not violate due process under the Ohio or United States Constitutions. Appellant was indicted on one count of having a weapon while under a disability. The alleged disability stemmed from Appellant’s prior adjudication of delinquency as a juvenile for committing a felonious assault. Appellant filed a motion to dismiss, asserting that his juvenile adjudication could not be used as a predicate for criminal conduct under section 2923.13(A)(2). The trial court denied the motion to dismiss. Appellant was subsequently convicted and sentenced. The court of appeal affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that a previous juvenile adjudication may be an element of the weapons-under-disability offense set forth in section 2923.13(A)(2) without violating due process. View "State v. Carnes" on Justia Law

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In this original action brought under Article II, Section 1g of the Ohio Constitution, the Supreme Court sustained the challenge brought by Relators regarding an initiative petition to place a proposed constitutional amendment on the November 6, 2018 ballot, concluding that Relators showed that Ohio law required invalidation of the petition. The proposed constitutional amendment at issue was called the “Kidney Dialysis Patient Protection Amendment.” Relators - the Kidney Dialysis Patient Protection Committee and its individual members and Secretary of State Jon Husted - argued in part that the petition must be invalidated because several circulation managers failed to comply with Ohio Rev. Code 3501.381(A). The Supreme Court invalidated the petition, holding that Relators demonstrated violations of section 3501.381(A) and that the constitutional challenges to that statute were without merit. View "Ohio Renal Ass’n v. Kidney Dialysis Patient Protection Amendment Committee" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the court of appeals concluding that an order appointing a guardian ad litem (GAL) for an adult is not a final, appealable order under Ohio Rev. Code 2505.02(B) and vacated the trial court’s order appointing a GAL to act on Appellant’s behalf in her divorce case. The court of common pleas, domestic relations division, issued an order appointing a GAL to represent Appellant in her divorce case without providing her with prior notice or an opportunity to be heard on the issue. The Supreme Court remanded the case to the trial court for further proceedings, holding (1) because the order was issued during a special proceeding and affects a substantial right and because Appellant will not be provided adequate relief if she is not permitted immediately to appeal the order, the order is a final, appealable order under section 2505.02(B)(2); and (2) the order violated Appellant’s due process rights. View "Thomasson v. Thomasson" on Justia Law

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At issue was whether the trial court had authority to enjoin the state from enforcing new statutes as punishment for contempt of court. The court of common pleas found the state to be in contempt of a court order that permanently enjoined the state from enforcing several statutes that the court had declared unconstitutional. The contempt finding was based on the General Assembly’s enactment of new statutes that reduced funding to cities that were not acting in compliance with the statutes that were previously declared unconstitutional. As punishment for the contempt, the state was enjoined from enforcing the new laws. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the court of appeals, vacated the order of contempt, and dissolved the injunction against enforcing the spending provisions enacted by 2015 Am.Sub.H.B. No. 64 (H.B. 64), holding that the trial court lacked authority to enjoin enforcement of the spending provisions enacted in H.B. 64 because the statutes had not been declared unconstitutional. View "Toledo v. State" on Justia Law