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Case Update

Summertime, and the blogging is easy...  At least the Monday Case Update is, because there were only about 45 court of appeals decisions last week. 

There were a couple of cases of note out of the Supreme Court.  In State v. Clevenger, the Court held that a trial judge can't waive or suspend costs in a criminal case after sentencing.  The other case, Snyder v. American Family Ins., involves the portion of the uninsured motorists statute which says that a tortfeasor who is immune from liability (in this case, because of sovereign immunity) is an "uninsured motorist."  Notwithstanding that, the Court in Snyder says that an insurance company can validly exclude UMI coverage in those cases. 

Now, call me crazy, but I don't think it makes a lot of sense to have the legislature define what constitutes an uninsured motorist, and then let the insurance companies write policies which exclude that definition.  Then again, the reason for that becomes a little clearer after you read this story by Ohio Public Citizen on campaign contributions from insurance companies to Ohio Supreme Court candidates.

As for the courts of appeals, there's a good case out of the 1st District on transferred intent -- A shoots at B and hits C.  In this case, though, A shot at B and hit C's car.  The dissent does an excellent job of discussing the history and logic of transferred intent, and argues that it shouldn't apply to an attempt to commit a crime. 

The only other notworthy decisions are in the domestic area.  If you've got a civil protection order case that involves spanking, you'll want to take a look at this case, in which the 5th District affirms the denial of an order where the trial judge found the spanking "excessive," but not posing "a substantial danger of serious physical harm."  The father had spanked his three-year-old daughter with his hand and a piece of wood trim, which, according to the doctor, had left "purple bruising, about five centimeters in width," and an abrasion on the girl's buttocks.  Spare the wood trim, spoil the child, I suppose...  Here's another case that's an interesting read, although its precedential value is limited to the unremarkable proposition that a court does not err in granting child custody to one parent where the other parent is batshit crazy.  And mutilating yourself, taking pictures of it, and then claiming in court that your husband did it qualifies under any definition of batshit crazy, even Blackstone's, although I confess I didn't look it up.

Finally, from the Department of Don't Say You're Sorry Unless You Mean It comes State v. Prunty, a cautionary tale from the 8th District.  Prunty had been indicted for two counts of rape and one of kidnapping a 15-year-old girl, and had pled guilty to the indictment.  He wrote a detailed letter to the judge explaining why he'd committed the offense, then decided to withdraw his plea.  The court let him and recused itself, and at the trial the state was allowed to introduce the letter.  Prunty claimed this wasn't kosher, and in violation of Evidence Rule 410, which makes inadmissible evidence of "pleas, offers of pleas, and related statements."  The appellate court, though, concluded that the letter came after the plea, and therefore wasn't related.  Prunty will have plenty of time to mull over his decision-making in the case; he got convicted and was sentenced to life imprisonment.

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