The big news about the US Supreme Court came out of Oregon this past week. I'd previously blogged about the Phillip Morris case, in which an Oregon jury had nailed the company with $80 million in punitive damages in a smoker's suit, and about how the Supreme Court had reversed the verdict. Last week, the Oregon Supreme Court reinstated it, on the independent state ground that the jury instruction proposed by PM was erroneous. Howard Bashman at How Appealing has the story and an analysis, the moral of which is don't try too hard to slant the jury instructions in your favor.
Down in Columbus, the news that the Ohio Supreme Court has been writing opinions more quickly (or, in the parlance of the grammatically-challenged Plain Dealer headline writer, "quicker") is somewhat diluted by the fact that the court's gone a couple of weeks without issuing any. The ones this week aren't likely to be regarded as seminal by future generations: in one, the court upheld red-light cameras as being within the home rule powers of Akron (and, by implication, Cleveland), although it specifically abstained on the procedural due process questions involved in that issue, which will now be decided by a Federal court. The other case involved the limitations on a lender's liability for a defective consumer product, and any regular of this blog has even less interest in reading about it than I do in writing about it.
So let's get to the courts of appeals.
Criminal. In two cases, here and here, 8th District reverses case where defendant represented himself during trial, holding that waiver of counsel wasn't valid; in one case, court also holds that trial court erred in combining hearing on motion to suppress with the trial... 10th District holds that Miranda warnings weren't required in roadside stop; even though defendant was in cruiser, he wasn't handcuffed and hadn't been frisked... 5th District rejects claim that defendant's 13-year sentence created an "unnecessary burden on state resources" under RC 2929.11(A), correctly notes that statute offers not a clue as to what an "unnecessary burden" is... 5th District holds that theft is not lesser included offense of robbery... 4th District rules that sexual misconduct with minor and gross sexual imposition are not allied offenses...
Civil. 10th District holds that request for admissions can't be deemed admitted because party requesting them didn't specify a time for response (see below)... Also reverses grant of summary judgment in slip and fall, holding attendant circumstances made application of open and obvious doctrine inappropriate... Accelerated docket means accelerated docket: in two-paragraph opinion seven months after appeal was filed, 8th District holds that trial court was right to vacate judgment under 60(B)(5) because defendant hadn't received notice of trial date... 9th District upholds award of unemployment comp, says employee had just cause to quit because job duties and hours were different from what he'd been promised, and boss persistently yelled at him...
Moral of this story: It doesn't pay to be a jerk. In McGreevy v. Bassler, the 10th District decision mentioned above on requests for admissions, the plaintiff's lawyer claimed that he'd never received the defendant's requests for admissions. Turns out he hadn't; they'd been sent by certified mail, and came back unclaimed. Plaintiff's counsel first learned of them when he received the defendant's motion for summary judgment, which argued that the requests should be deemed admitted for lack of reply. He then requested that the defendant's attorney provide him a copy, which the latter refused:
Plaintiff. . . recounted his efforts to obtain the discovery requests from defendant's counsel, stating that he requested the discovery requests from defendant's counsel by fax, in two personal visits to counsel's office, and in several telephone calls.
Sounds like somebody didn't get much out of his hour of CLE on professionalism.