Justia Civil Rights Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Supreme Court of Ohio
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The Supreme Court reversed Defendant's convictions for aggravated murder and other felonies and the death sentence imposed by the county court of common pleas, holding that Defendant was deprived of his constitutional right to the effective assistance of counsel when defense counsel, during voir dire, failed to question or strike a racially biased juror. On appeal, Defendant presented seventeen propositions of law. In his seventeenth proposition of law, Defendant argued that his trial counsel provided ineffective assistance by failing to question and strike a juror who made racially biased statements on her juror questionnaire and that counsel's deficient performance denied him a fair and impartial jury. The Supreme Court found this issue dispositive and reversed Defendant's convictions and sentence, holding that defense counsel's performance during voir dire was objectively unreasonable and that counsel's deficient performance prejudiced Defendant in violation of his constitutional right to effective assistance of counsel. The Court remanded the case to the trial court for a new trial. View "State v. Bates" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the court of appeals reversing the judgment of the trial court denying Defendant's motion to suppress, holding that a court may consider evidence beyond the four corners of a search warrant affidavit in determining whether an officer reasonably and in good faith relied on that warrant. Defendant was indicted for sexual imposition and voyeurism. Defendant filed a motion to suppress seeking to invalidate a search warrant authorizing the search of his home on the basis that the warrant affidavit contained materially false statements. The trial court ultimately denied the motion to suppress. At issue on remand was whether a detective's testimony regarding his unrecorded conversation with the judge at the time of the approval of the warrant was admissible at the suppression hearing. The court of appeals reversed, holding that the testimony was inadmissible and that the good-faith exception did not apply. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) in deciding whether the good-faith exception to the exclusionary rule applies to a search conducted under a search warrant, a court can consider sworn but unrecorded oral information that the police gave to the judge; and (2) because application of the exclusionary rule would not serve to deter any bad police conduct, suppression was unwarranted. View "State v. Dibble" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the court of appeals concluding that reasonable parental discipline is not a component of the physical-harm element on Ohio's domestic violence and assault statues but, rather, is an affirmative defense to a charge under those statutes, holding that reasonable parental discipline is an affirmative defense. Defendant was charged with one third-degree felony count of domestic violence and one first-degree misdemeanor count of assault for allegedly beating the seven-year-old son of his live-in girlfriend for acting out at school. During trial, Defendant argued that his conduct was a reasonable exercise of parental discipline and corporal punishment. The trial court found Defendant guilty of the charges. The court of appeals affirmed, holding that treating reasonable parental discipline as an affirmative defense and placing the burden of proving that defense upon the accused does not violate due process. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) proof of unreasonable parental discipline is not a component of the physical harm element of the offenses; (2) reasonable parental disciplines an affirmative defense; and (3) treating reasonable parental discipline as an affirmative defense does not unconstitutionally place the burden of proof on the defendant. View "State v. Faggs" on Justia Law

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In this certified-conflict case, the Supreme Court held that when an indigent defendant makes an ineffective assistance of counsel claim based upon counsel's failure to request a waiver of court costs, a reviewing court must apply the test in State v. Bradley, 538 N.E.2d 373 (Ohio 1989) for determining whether a defendant received ineffective assistance of counsel. Defendant was convicted of assaulting a peace officer. The trial court assessed court costs against Defendant, despite his indigent status. On appeal, the court of appeals determined that Defendant was not prejudiced by trial counsel's failure to request a waiver of costs and that the basis for a finding of ineffective assistance of counsel for failure to request such a waiver no longer exists. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) when trial counsel fails to request that the trial court waive court costs on behalf of an indigent defendant, a determination of prejudice for purposes of an ineffective assistance of counsel analysis deeds on whether there is a reasonable probability that the trial court would have granted the request to waive costs had one been made; and (2) the court of appeals incorrectly analyzed the prejudice prong of the ineffective-assistance of counsel analysis set forth in Bradley. View "State v. Davis" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court granted New Wen, Inc.'s request for a writ of mandamus to compel the Ohio Department of Transportation and its director (collectively, ODOT) to commence appropriation proceedings for an alleged taking of its real property, holding that New Wen showed, by clear and convincing evidence, that ODOT must pay compensation for the taking of the property at issue in this case. At issue was ODOT's closure of a certain intersection, which deprived New Wen of access to a state route. The Supreme Court held that an easement agreement expressly preserved the right of access of New Wen's predecessor-in-title right to the state route and that ODOT's closure of the intersection deprived New Wen of its right of access. Therefore, the Court granted a writ of mandamus to compel ODOT to commence appropriation proceedings and pay compensation for the taking of the property at issue in this case. View "State ex rel. New Wen, Inc. v. Marchbanks" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the court of appeals refusing to consider for the first time on appeal the State's argument that Defendant lacked Fourth Amendment standing to contest the admission of seized evidence, holding that when the State fails to dispute a defendant's standing in the trial court, it is foreclosed on appeal from attacking the trial court's judgment on these grounds. Defendant filed a motion to suppress, arguing that a detention violated his Fourth Amendment rights. The trial court granted the motion to suppress, concluding that the arresting officer lacked a reasonable, articulable suspicion of criminal activity at the time he detained Defendant. The State appealed, arguing that Defendant lacked standing to contest the admission of the evidence seized. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that where the State did not assert in the trial court that Defendant lacked Fourth Amendment standing to challenge his detention, the State was precluded from asserting that argument in its appeal from the judgment granting Defendant's motion to suppress. View "State v. Wintermeyer" 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 mandamus, holding that the court of appeals correctly held that Appellant failed fully to comply with Ohio Rev. Code 2969.25(C). In his petition, Appellant sought to compel a common pleas judge to hold a new sentencing hearing and to issue a final, appealable order in his criminal case. The court of appeals dismissed the petition for failure to state a claim, concluding that the petition was procedurally defective because the affidavit of indigence did not contain a statement of the balance in Appellant's inmate account and because Appellant an adequate remedy by law by way of direct appeal. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Appellant's failure to comply with the requirements of section 2969.25 required dismissal of his complaint. View "State ex rel. Sands v. Culotta" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant's convictions of two counts of aggravated murder and sentence of death for one of the murders but vacated the sentence, holding that the trial court erred in ruling that Defendant was not intellectually disabled. On appeal, Defendant argued that the trial court erred in concluding that he was not intellectually disabled. The Supreme Court remanded the case to the trial court to hold a new hearing to determine whether Defendant was intellectually disabled in accordance with the criteria set forth in this opinion, holding (1) the trial court should have discussed evidence presented on the Flynn Effect, although it was in the trial court's discretion whether to include it as a factor in Defendant's IQ scores; (2) the trial court used the wrong standard in finding that Defendant did not have significant limitations in his adaptive skills; (3) the holding in State v. Lott, 779 N.E.2d 1011 (Ohio 2002), that there is a rebuttable presumption that a defendant is not intellectually disabled if his IQ score is above 70 is no longer valid; and (4) for purposes of eligibility for the death penalty, a court determining whether a defendant is intellectually disabled must consider three core elements set forth in this opinion. View "State v. Ford" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court held that where Defendant was previously convicted of child endangering in connection with the death of his child and then, after his release from prison, Defendant told authorities that he had beaten his son to death, the prohibition against double jeopardy did not prevent the state from prosecuting Defendant for murder or aggravated murder. Defendant originally told authorities that he had accidentally caused his son's death while driving an ATV. Defendant was charged with child endangering and involuntary manslaughter. Defendant entered into a plea agreement whereby he pled guilty to child endangering, and the involuntary manslaughter charge was dismissed. After Defendant served his time in prison, he confessed that he had beaten the child to death and fabricated the ATV accident. Defendant was then indicted for aggravated murder and murder. Defendant filed a motion to dismiss the murder charges, asserting that involuntary manslaughter is a lesser included offense of murder and aggravated murder and that the state was thus barred from prosecuting the charges. The trial court denied the motion. The court of appeals reversed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that double jeopardy principles did not bar Defendant's prosecution. View "State v. Soto" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the court of appeals affirming the judgment of the trial court overruling Defendant's motion to suppress evidence relating to a traffic stop, holding that the arresting officer had reasonable suspicion to make an investigatory stop. In affirming the trial court, the court of appeals determined that the discrepancy between the color in the vehicle's registration and the actual color of the vehicle was sufficient to raise the officer's suspicion to that vehicle was either stolen or that the license plate had been taken from another vehicle. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that when a police officer encounters a vehicle that is painted a different color from the color listed in the vehicle registration records and the officer believes that the vehicle or its license plates may be stolen, the officer has a reasonable, articulable suspicion of criminal activity and is authorized to perform an investigative traffic stop. View "State v. Hawkins" on Justia Law