Justia Constitutional Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Supreme Court of Ohio
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The Supreme Court granted a writ of prohibition sought by Relators, who owned property over which Ohio Power Company sought to take easements by eminent domain, holding that Relators were entitled to a writ of prohibition to prevent Washington County Court of Common Pleas Judge John Halliday from proceeding with a compensation trial during the pendency of Relators' appeal.After Judge Halliday ruled that Ohio Power's takings were necessary for a public use Relators appealed to the Fourth District Court of Appeals. Notwithstanding the appeal, Judge Halliday scheduled a trial on the issue of compensation. Relators commenced this action seeking a writ of prohibition to prevent Judge Halliday from holding the compensation trial while their appeal was pending. The Supreme Court granted the writ, holding (1) the appropriations in this case did not fall under any of the exceptions to the owner's right to immediate appeal under Ohio Rev. Code 163.09(B)(3); and (2) a compensation trial during the pendency of a section 163.09(B)(3) appeal is inconsistent with the court of appeals' jurisdiction. View "State ex rel. Bohlen v. Halliday" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the court of appeals' decision reversing Defendant-doctor's convictions on the ground that the trial court should have granted Defendant's motion to suppress incriminating answers he gave during a medical board investigation, holding that the State may use incriminating answers given by a doctor during a medical board investigation in a subsequent criminal prosecution of the doctor.Defendant was convicted of three third-degree misdemeanor counts of sexual imposition. The court of appeals reversed the denial of Defendant's motion to suppress statements he had made to the medical board investigator as having been illegally compelled in violation of the Fifth Amendment. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) a medical license is a property right, the threatened loss of which is a form of coercion that can compromise the constitutional privilege against self-incrimination; (2) for coercion to be sufficient to warrant the suppression of statements made during a medical board investigative interview, the person making the statements must subjectively believe that asserting the privilege against self-incrimination could cause the loss of the person's medical license, and that belief must be objectively reasonable; and (3) Defendant's belief that he could lose his medical license if he refused to truthfully answer questions posed by the medical-board investigator was not objectively reasonable. View "State v. Gideon" on Justia Law

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In this appeal concerning two prison sentences that Defendant received related to 133.62 grams of powder containing detectable amounts of heroin and fentanyl the Supreme Court held that the sentence violated the double jeopardy protections of the Ohio and United States Constitutions.Defendant was sentenced on a first-degree felony conviction for trafficking in 133.62 grams of heroin and was separately sentenced on a second-degree felony conviction for trafficking in 133.62 grams of fentanyl. The court of appeals upheld the sentences, concluding that the General Assembly intended to separately punish an offender for trafficking in different types of drugs. The Supreme Court reversed, vacated the sentences, and remanded the case for resentencing, holding that the imposition of two punishments for the same, singular quantity of drugs violated Defendant's constitutional double jeopardy protections. View "State v. Pendleton" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court held that the right to bear arms under the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution does not include the right to carry a firearm while intoxicated, and therefore, Ohio Rev. Code 2923.15 is not unconstitutional.Defendant was found guilty of violating section 2923.15(A), which provides that no person under the influence of alcohol or drugs shall carry or use any firearm. The court of appeals affirmed the conviction. On appeal, Defendant argued that section 2923.15 violates the Second Amendment. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the constitutionality of section 2923.15 should be judged using intermediate scrutiny; and (2) the statute is constitutional under intermediate scrutiny. View "State v. Weber" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court held that Ohio Rev. Code 2953.08(D)(3) does not preclude an appellate court from reviewing a sentence imposed by a trial court for aggravated murder when a defendant raises a constitutional claim regarding that sentence on appeal.A jury found Defendant guilty of aggravated murder and other offenses stemming from a fatal shooting when Defendant was seventeen years old. The trial court sentenced Defendant to life imprisonment with parole eligibility after thirty years for the aggravated murder offense. On appeal, Defendant argued that his sentence violated the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) Ohio Rev. Code 2953.08(D)(3) does not preclude an appellate court from reviewing a sentence imposed by a trial court for aggravated murder when a defendant raises a constitutional claim regarding that sentence on appeal; and (2) consistent with this Court's decision in State v. Long, 8 N.E.3d 890 (Ohio 2014), a trial court must separately consider the youth of a juvenile offender as a mitigating factor before imposing a life sentence under Ohio Rev. Code 2929.03 even if that sentence includes eligibility for parole. View "State v. Patrick" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court held that the failure to serve the Ohio Attorney General a declaratory judgment claim alleging an ordinance is unconstitutional at the inception of the action does not divest the trial court of its subject matter jurisdiction pursuant to Ohio Rev. Code 2721.12.The City of Cincinnati filed an action for injunctive relief against Fourth National Realty, LLC alleging that Fourth National had installed an outdoor advertising sign without obtaining the necessary permit and variance. Fourth National filed a counterclaim seeking a declaration that the City's outdoor advertising ordnances violated its constitutional right to free speech but did not serve its counterclaim until two years into the litigation. On remand, the City argued that the trial court lacked subject matter jurisdiction because Fourth National had not served the attorney general with notice of the pending constitutional claim at the inception of Fourth National's case. The trial court concluded that it had subject matter jurisdiction, and the court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that section 2721.12(A) does not require service on the attorney general at the inception of the action. View "City of Cincinnati v. Fourth National Realty, LLC" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court held that Ohio Rev. Code 2151.352 is unconstitutionally underinclusive as applied to indigent parents facing the loss of their parental rights in probate court and that indigent parents are entitled to counsel in adoption proceedings in probate court as a matter of equal protection of the law under the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution and Ohio Const. art. I, 2.Petitioners filed petitions in the probate court to adopt Mother's two children. Mother filed a request for appointed counsel, which the probate court denied. The court of appeals affirmed the denial of Mother's request for appointed counsel, concluding that equal protection and due process guarantees are inapplicable to requests for appointed counsel in adoption causes brought by private petitioners. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the disparate treatment between indigent parents faced with losing parental rights in a custody proceeding in juvenile court, who are entitled to appointed counsel, and indigent parents faced with losing parental rights in an adoption proceeding in probate court, who are not entitled to appointed counsel, violates equal protection guarantees. View "In re Adoption of Y.E.F." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court held that a condition of community control imposed on Defendant that Defendant "make all reasonable efforts to avoid impregnating a woman" during his sentence was not reasonably related to the goals of community control, nor was it reasonably tailored to avoid impinging Defendant's liberty no more than necessary.Defendant was convicted of several felony counts of nonsupport of dependents. Defendant's sentence included the anti-procreation condition at issue. At issue before the Supreme Court was whether the anti-procreation prohibition impermissibly infringed upon Defendant's constitutional rights. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the condition unnecessarily imagined upon Defendant's liberty, and therefore, the trial court must remove the anti-procreation condition but may impose other conditions that are appropriately tailored to the goals of community control. View "State v. Chapman" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant's convictions of aggravated murder and other crimes but vacated his death sentence, holding that the aggravating circumstances that Defendant was found guilty of committing did not outweigh the mitigating factors present in the case beyond a reasonable doubt, and therefore a sentence of death was not appropriate.Defendant was found guilty of multiple offenses, including aggravated murder and three accompanying death-penalty specifications - committing the aggravated murder during an aggravated robbery, an aggravated burglary, and a kidnapping. The trial court sentenced Defendant to death. At issue before the Supreme Court was whether the felony-murder aggravating circumstances that were found by the jury outweighed the mitigating factors presented by the defense beyond a reasonable doubt. The Supreme Court held that they did not and therefore remanded the case to the trial court for resentencing consistent with Ohio Rev. Code 2929.06. View "State v. Graham" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant's convictions for kidnapping, rape, and murder, holding that when a criminal defendant validly exercises his right to self-representation he can no longer raise claim under the Sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution that his trial counsel - standby or otherwise - was ineffective.In his criminal trial, Defendant waived his right to counsel under the Sixth Amendment and chose to represent himself. The trial court accepted Defendant's waiver and appointed standby counsel to be available to assist Defendant. On appeal, Defendant argued that the trial court violated his Sixth Amendment rights by limiting the role of his standby counsel. The court of appeals affirmed, holding that, based on the court's understanding of the typical role of standby counsel, the trial court did not improperly limit the role of standby counsel. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that because the trial court had the discretion not to appoint standby counsel at all, the court did not abuse its discretion by appointing standby counsel with a limited role. View "State v. Hackett" on Justia Law