The US Supreme Court released seven decisions last week, the most significant, at least for the people who read this blog, being Indiana v. Edwards. The defendant in that case suffered from schizophrenia, and had no fewer than three competency hearings. After finally being declared competent to stand trial, he demanded to act as his own attorney. The trial judge denied the motion, but the Indiana appellate courts overruled that, saying that competent to stand trial meant competent to serve as one's own attorney. Not so, say the Supremes.
The Robed Seven down in Columbus were busy, too. In addition to affirming a death penalty for one of the inmates in the 1993 Lucasville riot, the other criminal case of note was State v. Gardner, which I discussed on Thursday.
There were a number of civil decisions of note, though, too. In Paterek v. Peterson & Ibold, the court held that a legal malpractice judgment was limited to the amount that could've been collected. The lawyers had failed to refile a dismissed complaint in an injury case, and the jury determined that the plaintiff's injuries were worth $382,000. The defendant, though, was uncollectible beyond his $100,000 insurance policy limits, so that's what the court decided the plaintiff should have been awarded in the malpractice case. And in Howard v. Miami Twp. Fire Div., the court held that, in the context of sovereign immunity, ice in a roadway didn't constitute an "obstruction" for which a municipality was liable. (I blogged about the oral argument in the case here, which gives you a better idea of the facts and the issues.)
Now -- finally -- on to the courts of appeals...
Criminal. 1st District holds that Adam Walsh Act, providing new sex offender designations, doesn't moot a sexual predator determination under old law, reverses sexual predator designation; hearing was for rape and murder committed in 1977, defendant had been in prison ever since... 6th District says that defendant can be convicted of violating protective order, even if order is subsequently vacated on appeal... 8th District holds that co-conspirator statements can be admitted under EvidR 801(D)(2)(e), even if conspiracy couldn't have been charged as a crime under RC 2923.01... 9th District affirms denial of post-conviction relief based on claims of ineffective assistance of counsel for, among other things, attorney's "failure to pursue meaningful plea negotiations"... 5th District says that police officer's asking defendant to step outside, and nudging him in that direction, did not change nature of confrontation from consensual encounter to "stop"... 8th District says that fact burglary occurred shortly after occupants left for work sufficient to establish that someone was "likely to be present"... Good news for defendant: Evidence that defendant hit child four times with belt not sufficient to convict him of child endangering, says 9th District. Bad news: sentence of life imprisonment for raping same child affirmed...
Civil. 10th District holds that placement of bus stop is a proprietary function, but that it also involves exercise of judgment or discretion, thus giving rise to defense of sovereign immunity against claim that stop was negligently placed so as to cause auto accident... Insurance company issues policy to homeowner, home goes into foreclosure, plaintiff purchases it, home burns down: lack of privity between insurer and purchaser gets insurer off the hook for loss, rules 9th District... 5th District says that simple denial by defendant in affidavit that she received service insufficient to allow vacating default judgment; court should have held hearing, allowed cross-examination on that point... 9th District holds that property seized by police not subject to replevin while criminal investigation is ongoing...
Oh, right, I forgot... The defendant in the 6th District's decision in State v. Eschrich contended on appeal that the trial court erred in failing to advise him of his right to counsel, and that he had not knowingly, intelligently, and voluntarily waived his right to counsel.
The defendant was an attorney, and had filed an entry of appearance stating he was one and would be representing himself.
Well, maybe he got the "intelligently" part right.