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


Case Update

It's Supreme Court week here at The Briefcase.  Tomorrow I'll talk about the one decision left over from last week, Giles v. California, which presented a Crawford question.  On Wednesday I'll have a recap of some of the questions facing defense attorneys handling gun charges in the aftermath of Heller.  And on Thursday I'll give a brief rundown of some of the other major decisions of the Court's just-concluded term.

One other case deserves mention:  in Exxon v. Baker, the Court reduced the punitive damages in the Exxon Valdez spill from $2.5 billion to just a bit over $500 million, about the same as the compensatory damages in the case.  The Court suggested that a 1-1 ratio of compensatory to puntive damages was appropriate in admiralty cases, and there's some suggestion in Justice Souter's opinion for the Court that a similar ratio may be applied in all cases.  The Court's jurisprudence on the due process aspect of punitive damages is all over the place, and they'll get another shot at it when the $79.5 million award against Phillip Morris in an Oregon smoker's case comes before Court for the third time next year.

The Exxon case came down the same day that the Court struck down Louisiana's law imposing capital punishment for child rape, leading some to note that the Court was imposing restrictions on the jury's ability to punish child rapists and large corporations.  Not that anyone's drawing an analogy between child rapists and large corporations...

The Ohio Supreme Court, perhaps in deference to the focus on Washington, handed down no decisions whatsoever last week, so let's get right to the courts of appeals, including a boatload of them from the 8th District...

Criminal.  In one of the best-written 4th Amendment decisions I've seen, the 1st District affirms a motion to suppress, holding that affidavit's lack of any reference to time made it invalid, and rejecting argument that good faith exception applied... 8th District holds that seven thefts committed in one night, resulting in convictions under two different case numbers, count as one offense for expungement purposes; although there are decisions saying that if burglary takes place when occupant is usually at job, element of person "likely to be present" is not established, here the burglary took place sufficiently close to time when occupant normally left for job, thus, although she wasn't there at time, element was still established; and whether to ask for charge on lesser included offense a matter of trial strategy, cannot form the basis of a claim of ineffective assistance of counsel...Civil.  1st District says when child injures another while riding his bicycle, parents not liable in absence of evidence of prior similar accidents or reckless conduct... 10th District holds that company not subject to personal jurisdiction in Ohio simply because it maintains an interactive web site which can be accessed here... 8th District says that partial appeal under 54(B) must include magic language of "no just reason for delay"; trial court's merely granting motion to "certify a 54(B) appeal" not enough to give appellate court jurisdiction... No evidence that defendant acted with actual malice in intersectional collision, 9th District affirms grant of partial summary judgment against plaintiff on claim for punitive damages... Ya think?  12th District holds that father's conviction of 60 counts of voyeurism and classification as sexually-oriented offender was change of circumstances, permitting modification of shared parenting agreement so as to give custody to mother...

A mother's love.  In State v. Adams, the defendant's mother testified on direct examination that her son didn't use drugs.  On cross-examination,

the prosecutor asked, "Have you ever known your son to be involved in drugs?"  She responded, "Marijuana, yes."  The prosecutor asked, "But not crack cocaine?" Mrs. Adams responded: "No.  Do he look like a crack head? Look how fat he is.  Come on!"


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