Articles Posted in Ohio Supreme Court

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Defendant was indicted on two counts of aggravated murder, each of which carried three death specifications. Defendant waived a jury and was tried by a three-judge panel. The panel found Defendant guilty of felony murder and sentenced him to death. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) Defendant’s jury waiver and voluntary, knowing, and intelligent; (2) the procedure whereby the judges were appointed to the panel was not plain error; (3) Defendant’s confession was voluntary; (4) Defendant’s claim that the State violated his Sixth Amendment rights by seizing “attorney work product” during a search of his jail cell was waived at trial; (5) prosecutorial misconduct did not deny Defendant a fair trial; (6) the aggravating circumstances outweighed the mitigating factors in this case beyond a reasonable doubt; and (7) the death sentence in this case was appropriate and proportionate. View "State v. Osie" on Justia Law

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After Mother and Father divorced, the parties disputed the custody of their child, A.G. During a court proceeding concerning custody, the juvenile court excluded A.G., who was thirteen years old at the time, from attending the hearing. A.G. had filed a motion to attend the hearing, but the judge denied the motion, concluding that the dispute was between the parents, and therefore, A.G. had not constitutional right to be present. A.G. appealed, claiming that the trial court violated her due process rights by denying her motion to attend the proceeding. The court of appeals affirmed, holding that the trial court had discretion to exclude A.G., a nonparty, from a hearing in custody litigation ancillary to her parents’ divorce. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) in child-custody litigation arising from a divorce, a court has discretion to exclude a child from any proceeding if it determines that exclusion is in the best interest of the child; and (2) the juvenile court in this case considered relevant and appropriate factors in making its decision. View "In re A.G." on Justia Law

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Erin McCardle and Leatrice Tolls, protesters involved in the Occupy Cleveland movement in the Public Square area of Cleveland, were arrested and charged with a curfew violation under Cleveland Codified Ordinances 559.541. The ordinance prevents any person from remaining in the Public Square area between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. without a permit. The defendants moved to dismiss the charges, asserting that the ordinance violated the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution. The Cleveland Municipal Court denied the motions to dismiss. The defendants subsequently pled no contest to the curfew violation. The court of appeals reversed and remanded the cases, holding that the ordinance violated the First Amendment because Cleveland’s interests were insufficient to justify its limit on speech, and the ordinance was not narrowly tailored. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the ordinance was constitutional under the United States Constitution, as it was content-neutral, narrowly tailored to advance a significant government interest, and allowed alternative channels of speech. View "City of Cleveland v. McCardle" on Justia Law

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Defendant was convicted of the aggravated murders of his former mother-in-law, his five-year-old daughter, and his three-year-old son. The trial court sentenced Defendant to death for each of the three aggravated murders. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the trial court’s denial of Defendant’s motion for a change of venue did not violate Defendant's rights to due process and to a fair trial by an impartial jury; (2) the trial judge did not abuse its discretion in seating two jurors that Defendant claimed were unfairly biased in favor of the death penalty; (3) there was no abuse of discretion in the admission of autopsy photos; (4) the prosecutor did not engage in misconduct; (5) Defendant’s counsel did not provide ineffective assistance; (6) Defendant’s challenges to the death penalty failed; and (7) there was no error in the sentences imposed. View "State v. Mammone" on Justia Law

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Defendant pled guilty to the murders of two women and to two counts of abuse of a corpse. After a jury trial, Defendant was convicted of aggravated murder with death specifications for the deaths of two girls. The trial court sentenced Defendant to death. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding, primarily, that (1) the State’s closing remarks in the penalty phase were “improper and substantially prejudicial,” but the Court’s independent evaluation and approval of the capital sentence cured the errors in the penalty-phase proceedings; (2) the trial court did not violate Ohio R. Evid. 404(B) by allowing a witness to testify that when she was thirteen years old Defendant exposed himself to her and offered her five dollars to engage in oral sex; (3) trial counsel did not render ineffective assistance; (4) the State presented sufficient evidence to convict Defendant of attempted rape or robbery in connection the murder of one of the girls; and (5) the sentence was appropriate. View "State v. Kirkland" on Justia Law

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After a jury trial, Appellant was convicted of two counts of aggravated murder and sentenced to death. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the trial court did not abuse its discretion in finding that Appellant was competent to stand trial; (2) the trial court did not abuse its discretion in ordering Appellant to wear leg restraints in the courtroom, and even assuming that the order was an abuse of discretion, the error was harmless; (3) the trial court erred in allowing the State to introduce evidence of weapons and ammunition not used in the murders, but the error was harmless; (4) the trial court did not abuse its discretion in introducing the former testimony of Dr. Delaney Smith, a psychiatrist, during the penalty phase, as defense counsel had a prior opportunity to cross-examine Dr. Smith; and (5) the trial court’s sentencing opinion was adequate. View "State v. Neyland" on Justia Law

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After a jury trial, Defendant was found guilty of the aggravated murder of Nichole McCorkle and sentenced to death. The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of conviction and the sentence of death, holding, among other things, that (1) the trial court did not err in admitting the autopsy report on McCorkle and by allowing a medical examiner, who did not conduct the autopsy, to testify about the autopsy results because an autopsy report that is neither prepared for the primary purpose of accusing a targeted individual nor prepared for the primary purpose of providing evidence in a criminal trial is nontestimonial and its admission into evidence at trial as a business record does not violate a defendant’s Sixth Amendment confrontation rights; (2) trial counsel did not provide constitutionally ineffective assistance; and (3) the trial court did not err by failing to appoint a neurologist to develop mitigation. View "State v. Maxwell" on Justia Law

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Appellant was charged with several offenses stemming from two separate shootings. Appellant was age seventeen when the offenses were committed. After a jury trial, Appellant was convicted of two counts of aggravated murder and sentenced to consecutive terms of life imprisonment without parole. On appeal, Appellant contended that his sentence amounted to cruel and unusual punishment. The court of appeals affirmed, holding (1) Appellant’s sentence was proper under Miller v. Alabama because the sentence imposed in this case was not mandatory but, rather, an exercise of the trial court’s discretion; and (2) the trial court did not violate the Eighth Amendment by failing to consider Appellant’s youth as a mitigating factor in sentencing Appellant. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the Eighth Amendment requires trial courts to consider youth as a mitigating factor when sentencing a child to life without parole for homicide, and the record must reflect that the court specifically considered the juvenile offender’s youth as a mitigating factor at sentencing when a prison term of life without parole is imposed; and (2) because Appellant might not have been given the benefit of the consideration of youth as a mitigating factor, his sentence did not comport with the procedural strictures of Miller. View "State v. Long" on Justia Law

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Appellee was charged with criminal child enticement. The complaint alleged that Appellee had asked a child to carry some boxes to his apartment in exchange for money, which conduct allegedly constituted a violation of Ohio Rev. Code 2905.05(A). Appellee filed a motion to dismiss the complaint, asserting that the criminal child enticement statute was unconstitutional because it was overbroad. The trial court agreed and dismissed the complaint. The court of appeals affirmed, holding that section 2905.05(A) was unconstitutionally overbroad. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the criminal child enticement statute could not survive constitutional scrutiny due to its overbreadth. View "State v. Romage" on Justia Law

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In 2003, Appellant was arrested and charged with the murder of Amber Zurcher. The trial court granted a mistrial on Appellant’s first trial. Several trials followed, and after a fifth trial, another mistrial was declared. When the trial court set a sixth trial date, Defendant moved to dismiss the indictment, arguing that the prosecution was barred by the Double Jeopardy and Due Process Clauses of the U.S. Constitution. The trial court denied the motion. The State moved to dismiss Appellant’s appeal, arguing that the trial court’s denial of Appellant’s motion to dismiss was not a final, appealable order. The court of appeals concluded that, in this situation where there had been multiple mistrials, the order was a final, appealable order. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that an order denying a motion to dismiss on double-jeopardy grounds is a final, appealable order. Remanded. View "State v. Anderson" on Justia Law