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 »


Case Update

Speaking of a updates, I'll be doing a one-hour seminar on Thursday night for the Cuyahoga Criminal Defense Lawyers Association, on major case developments in criminal law over the past year.  It's at 6:00 PM at John Q's, so drop by if you'd like.

On to the cases.  The big news out of Washington is that in addition to hearing oral argument in the lethal injection and voter fraud cases, the Court granted certiorari in a California case involving forfeiture under Crawford v. Washington.  What's that?  Crawford, as you know, bars testimonial statements, but the Court has indicated that a defendant may have forfeited his confrontation rights if he was responsible for the declarant not being available.  (For example, by killing the witness to keep her from testifying.)  There have been no Ohio cases on this yet, but it's cropped up elsewhere, and it's certain to produce a further refinement of Crawford.  If you're following Parker v. DC, the big gun rights case pending before the Court, you can find all the amicus briefs here, including one from "Professors of linguistics." 

Down in Columbus, the Supreme Court affirmed a death penalty; the noteworthy aspect of the decision was the discussion of merger of aggravated robbery and kidnapping charges; I'll have more on this subject later this week.  In fact, three judges dissented on that point, saying that the offenses should have merged.  Given that this had no effect whatsoever on the death sentence, I can't imagine a more irrelevant, how-many-angels-can-fit-on-the-head-of-a-pin discussion.

On to the courts of appeals...

Criminal.  Bizarre fact situation:  defendant argued his sentence was disproportionate because co-defendants pled to greater crimes and were given lesser sentences, but prosecutor at sentencing hearing said defendant's plea to lesser offense was result of "miscommunication," 6th District affirms sentence... 5th District upholds conviction in child rape case over allegation that indictment was unduly vague where it charged defendant with having committed four crimes in five-year period... 5th District upholds conviction for failure to pay child support, where failure pertained solely to arrearage, and child had come to live with father... 8th District says writ of prohibition not method to claim speedy trial rights violated, defendant has adequate remedy by way of appeal... 5th District case involving "midstream Miranda warnings":  defendant makes admission before being Mirandized, police then give warnings, get same admission; appellate court reverses trial court's overruling of motion to suppress post-Miranda statements, says it was all part of same interrogation...

Civil.  10th District dismisses appeal, says it has no jurisdiction since trial court never ruled on motion for new trial... 9th District upholds Akron's employee residency requirement, holds that state statute to contrary is unconstitutional infringement on home rule... 5th District reverses grant of judgment on pleadings against plaintiff estate suing medical center more than one year later for negligently dropping decedent during preparation for dialysis, says it's not clear whether that is a "medical claim"; note that this was judgment on pleadings, facts not developed, there's plenty of summary judgment cases contra...

After my post on Thursday about my transvestite trial, a sympathetic reader sent me this link to a story about a trial in Miami a few years back:

Closing arguments began this morning for one of the suspects, Donnie Hendrix, a transsexual who also goes by the name of Viva, and is accused of causing the death of Vera Lawrence at a so-called "pumping party." The parties are allegedly places where people come together to get cut-rate cosmetic procedures done. Often, they are said to involve silicone injections.

Okay, that tops mine.


Recent Entries

  • March 20, 2017
    Taking time off
    I'm taking the week off. Have a major brief due on Thursday, plus a trial in Federal court starting next Monday. Plus, I'm pretty sure that Obama wiretapped me, too, so I'm working on getting to the bottom of that....
  • March 17, 2017
    What's Up with the 8th?
    The 8th District cases come out every Thursday. By about ten o'clock in the morning, the court will have posted the "weekly decision list" on its web site. It will give a summary of the case, usually in a sentence...
  • March 14, 2017
    Rippo and Pena-Rodriguez
    SCOTUS issues decisions on judicial recusal and biased jurors
  • March 13, 2017
    Case Update
    A SCOTUS decision on career offenders, and appellate cases on what a judge can consider in sentencing, and untimely motions to suppress
  • March 9, 2017
    A switch in time
    The court reverses itself in Gonzalez
  • March 8, 2017
    What's Up in the 8th
    More sentencing stories, and the right way to handle an Anders brief
  • March 7, 2017
    Case Update
    Knock and announce and the Ohio Constitution, and Anders briefs.
  • March 6, 2017
    Never mind
    The Ohio Supreme Court reverses Gonzalez.
  • March 2, 2017
    Of bright lines and bookbags
    Oral argument in State v. Oles and State v. Polk
  • February 28, 2017
    What's Up in the 8th
    A good outcome in a search case, probably a good outcome (to be) in a drug case, and a very bad outcome in a child rape case