Welcome to The Briefcase

Commentary and analysis of Ohio criminal law and whatever else comes to mind, served with a dash of snark.  Continue Reading »


A letter from my buddy Ryan

Got another letter from my good friend Ryan Zempel.  As I explained a while back, Ryan's puts out a newsletter for the Institute for Legal Reform, a lobbying group agitating for reform of the tort system.  Perhaps in light of the recent escapades of Michael Vick, this is a poorly-chosen metaphor, but the ILR has a dog in this fight:  they're an affiliate of the US Chamber of Commerce, which has been a champion of business interests for decades.  My blog caught Ryan's attention when I posted a note about how personal injury law has substantially devalued the concept of personal responsibility, but apparently Ryan didn't read enough of the rest of my stuff to realize that I'm not exactly a toadie for big business, either. 

At any rate, in his latest email Ryan breathlessly informed me that the Ohio Academy of Trial Lawyers -- which consists largely of members of the personal injury bar -- was changing its name to the "Ohio Association for Justice" in an attempt to conceal its "true agenda."  Well, that might be, but in this case the accusation has a bit of the pot-kettle ring to it.  If the truth in advertising laws were enforced here, OATL would be named the Ohio Association of Ambulance Chasers, and Ryan would be writing a newsletter for the Institute to Screw Consumers.

As you may have gathered, this is one of those days when instead of telling you in mind-numbing detail about some recent case, I'm going to just surf the net and inform you of some of the legal-related stuff floating around out there.  Well, actually, I will tell you about some recent case, although not in mind-numbing detail.  It's the 12th District's decision last week in Jordan v. Civil Rights Comm., in which a dentist appealed the commission's finding that he'd engaged in sexual harassment of a dental assistant, which was summed up as follows:

Smith testified that appellant constantly followed her around the office and, on the second day, grabbed her from behind and pulled her against him. Appellant stated to Smith that his wife was going on vacation and suggested that Smith should meet him at a restaurant called The Dock in Chillicothe. Smith also testified that appellant frequently invited her over to his home to show her his horses and described to her in detail the horses' breeding habits. According to Smith, appellant repeatedly  suggested that she "needed a sugar daddy" and that he had several friends that would "drop money" on her if she had sex with them.

Additionally, Smith testified that appellant talked to her about taking Viagra and that the "prostitutes in Vegas hated when men took Viagra because it wore them out." She claimed appellant stated, "he couldn't tell anything about my body type because he hadn't seen me undressed." Smith testified that appellant wanted to show her nude photos from the internet and told patients that she used to work in a strip club.

The dentist didn't deny doing any of this, he simply argued that it wasn't sufficient to establish the "severe and pervasive" element under the hostile environment theory.  You know you're in trouble when your defense in a sexual harassment case is not that you were crude and offensive, but that you weren't crude and offensive enough

But let's take a break from the the law, and go back to roaming the Internet, where we find things like this story, which tells about the Connecticut chapter of the NAACP raising a stink because the state's Commissioner of Public Safety has a coffee cup with a Confederate flag on it. 

Well, that's overstating it a bit:  the mug is a souvenir cup purchased by the Commissioners sons during a trip to Gettysburg, and features a painting of Pickett's charge, in which the Confederate soldiers, for some reason, are carrying a Confederate flag; the flag in question is about the size of a postage stamp.  Now, I'm not a fan of the Confederate flag by any stretch; I scratched a visit to South Carolina simply because they still fly the flag there near the state building.  On the other hand, if anyone in the NAACP believes that, in light of the problems facing the black community in this country, this whole coffee cup thing was worth the expenditure of more than about eight nanoseconds of thought, you have an organization which desperately needs to reorder its priorities.

And on the brighter side, last week's bird cage matting had a story about Joshua Albers, who got into an altercation with the local police here on his way home from his wedding reception.  His defense attorney did an excellent job marshalling the medical evidence to show that the actions of Alber, who was a diabetic, were actually due to his plummeting blood sugar levels, and the prosecution dropped 11 felony counts down to 3 misdemeanor charges.  I thought the attorney had done a really good job until I read this story from -- where else? -- Los Angeles:

A diabetic attorney who claimed his judgment was impaired by a hypoglycemic attack was acquitted of smuggling heroin and methamphetamine to his jailed client.

John Kolfschoten, 62, had been charged with one count of conspiracy to commit a crime, one count of bringing drugs into a jail facility and two counts of transportation of a controlled substance.

During the weeklong trial, Kolfschoten testified he thought he was delivering family photographs to the jailed murder defendant. His dangerously low blood-sugar level at the time let the idea of inspecting the package slip his mind, the lawyer testified.

I guess we've moved from the "Twinkie Defense" to the "I Need a Twinkie" defense.


Recent Entries

  • February 23, 2018
    Marsy's Law -- Restitution
    How the Victim's Rights Amendment passed last November affects restitution
  • February 20, 2018
    What's Up in the 8th
    A search decision, more "policies," and why a seminar for muni court judges on taking pleas might be a good idea
  • February 14, 2018
    Two more to death row
    A couple of death penalty decisions from the Ohio Supreme Court
  • February 12, 2018
    En banc on sentencing
    The 8th looks at the appellate court's role in reviewing sentences
  • February 8, 2018
    SCOTUS and the Fourth
    A couple of upcoming Supreme Court decisions on search and seizure
  • February 5, 2018
    What's Up in the 8th
    The benefits of appealing muni court cases, lecture time, and when you absolutely, positively, cannot raise arguments about manifest weight and sufficiency
  • February 2, 2018
    Friday Roundup
    School specs and sovereign citizens
  • January 31, 2018
    A tale of three cases
    The Ohio Supreme Court decides one case, and decides not to decide two others
  • January 29, 2018
    What's Up in the 8th
    Getting rid of an attorney, no contest pleas, and probation conditions
  • January 26, 2018
    Friday Roundup
    Information society. Last week I did a post about Aaron Judge and the lack of hard data in the field of criminal law. We have mainly anecdotal information on what kinds of sentences judges hand down, we have no idea...