Articles Posted in Supreme Court of Ohio

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The Supreme Court denied Respondent’s motion to dismiss Relator’s original action in mandamus and issued an alternative writ, holding that, although Relator was an inmate who had filed a civil action against a state employee and Relator did not attach an affidavit of prior civil actions to his complaint, Respondent was not entitled to have the complaint dismissed. Relator, an inmate at the Southern Ohio Correction Facility, alleged that he submitted a public-records request to Respondent, the public-records custodian for the facility, but never received the requested documents. Relator filed a complaint for a writ of mandamus asking the Supreme Court to compel Respondent to provide him the requested documents. Respondent moved to dismiss the complaint based on Relator’s failure to comply with the filing requirements set forth in Ohio Rev. Code 2969.25. The Supreme Court held (1) section 2969.25 does not apply to this matter, and because it does not apply, Respondent’s motion to dismiss is denied; and (2) Relator is entitled to an alternative writ. View "State ex rel. McDougald v. Greene" 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 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

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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant’s convictions of aggravated murder with a death specification, felony-murder, kidnapping, aggravated robbery, aggravated burglary, and other crimes and the trial court’s imposition of the death penalty. On appeal, Defendant presented eighteen propositions of law. The Supreme Court examined each of Defendant’s claims and found that none had merit. Accordingly, the Court affirmed Defendant’s convictions and sentence of death, holding that there was no reversible error committed in the proceedings below and that Defendant was not entitled to relief. View "State v. Myers" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court held that Ohio’s death-penalty scheme does not violate the right to a trial by jury as guaranteed by the Sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution. Appellant was sentenced to death. The court of appeals remanded the case to the trial court for a new penalty-phase trial. On remand, Appellant moved to dismiss the capital specification from his indictment, arguing that Ohio’s death-penalty scheme is unconstitutional under the United States Supreme Court’s decision in Hurst v. Florida, __ U.S. __ (2016). Hurst invalidated Florida’s former capital-sentencing scheme because it “required the judge alone to find the existence of an aggravating circumstance.” The trial court granted the motion. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that because Ohio law requires the critical jury findings that were not required by the law at issue in Hurst, Ohio’s death-penalty scheme does not violate a defendant’s right to a trial by jury as guaranteed by the Sixth Amendment. View "State v. Mason" on Justia Law

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A law enforcement agency’s policy that an arrestee’s personal effects must accompany the arrestee to jail, on its own, cannot justify the warrantless retrieval of an arrestee’s personal effects from a location that is protected under the Fourth Amendment. Further, a search of personal effects obtained as a result of following such a policy is not a valid inventory search. The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the court of appeals, which upheld the trial court’s denial of Defendant’s motion to suppress the evidence found during the search of her purse, and vacated Defendant’s convictions for felony possession of drugs and misdemeanor possession of drug paraphernalia and drug-abuse instruments. The court held (1) the removal of Defendant’s purse from a car in which Defendant was a passenger and the subsequent search of the purse was unlawful; and (2) the exclusionary rule applied to require the suppression of the evidence obtained during the unconstitutional search. View "State v. Banks-Harvey" on Justia Law

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In 1981, McDermott was sentenced to life in prison. The Adult Parole Authority (APA) has repeatedly denied McDermott parole, most recently in 2015, finding substantial reason to believe that his release would create undue risk to public safety, or would not further the interest of justice. "The offender brutally stabbed the female victim to death while her minor children were in the house. He has completed programming, but lacks insight…. has gone some time without an infraction and [has] a supportive family." McDermott alleged that the APA had considered its erroneous belief that he had a history of stalking the victim and had violated a protection order. The Supreme Court of Ohio affirmed the Tenth District's denial of relief. To obtain mandamus relief, McDermott must establish, by clear and convincing evidence, a clear legal right to relief, that APA has a clear legal duty to provide it, and the lack of an adequate remedy in the course of law. The APA’s obligation to “investigate and correct any significant errors” arises when it is presented with “credible allegations, supported by evidence, that the materials relied on at a parole hearing were substantively inaccurate.” The evidence did not demonstrate that his APA record contained inaccurate information or that the APA relied on inaccurate information. McDermott sought no relief relating to alleged inaccuracies in the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction’s report regarding inmates over the age of 65 who were parole-eligible. View "McDermott v. Adult Parole Authority" on Justia Law

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Inmates, sentenced to indeterminate prison terms for crimes committed before 1996 sentencing reforms, alleged that the parole board has an unwritten policy of denying parole to old-law offenders, noting statements by board members that all inmates likely to be paroled following the reforms have been released. The complaint alleged that the board wastes $119 million annually by failing to give inmates meaningful parole consideration. The Supreme Court of Ohio affirmed the Tenth District's dismissal of their mandamus petition. Prior denials do not equate to failure to give meaningful consideration. The Adult Parole Authority has “wide-ranging discretion in parole matters,” subject to an inherent expectation “that a criminal offender will receive meaningful consideration for parole.” The inmates did not establish that officials have already predetermined that the seriousness of their offenses outweighs all other factors. They committed aggravated murder in the course of a robbery, first-degree murder, complicity to commit aggravated murder, attempted aggravated murder, and crimes involving a minor. The board has not held them to account for offenses more serious than they actually committed nor based its decision on factually inaccurate information. Weighing the seriousness of the crimes, as compared to whatever evidence of rehabilitation the inmates presented is the point at which the parole board exercises its discretion. The court also rejected requests for a declaration that the parole board members were guilty of public corruption and for sanctions for alleged “public corruption” and “dereliction of duty.” View "Bailey v. Parole Board" on Justia Law