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Case Update - Supreme Court Edition

Guess that'll teach me to keep my mouth shut.  After bemoaning the lack of Ohio Supreme Court decisions for the past month or so, I sit down to do the weekly case update and find no fewer than seventeen of the little suckers.  We'll take a look at those today, and then do the courts of appeals cases tomorrow. 

There were the usual bevy of disciplinary decisions, giving the usual cautions:  don't put money in your IOLTA account to shield it from creditors, be careful about accepting referrals from companies regarding foreclosures, and, if you're a judge, don't impose contempt citations without any rudiments of due process. 

There were a number of post-sentencing decisions regarding journal entries, in which the court reiterated its decision in State v. Baker (brief discussion here) about what a sentencing entry must include:  a simple "has been convicted" doesn't cut it, but saying that guilty verdicts were returned, without specifying what the initial plea was, does.  And, even if the journal entry was incorrect, you have to ask the judge to revise it before filing for any extraordinary writs. 

There were three other criminal decisions of note, one of which, on allied offenses, I discussed last Thursday.  In other cases, the court held in State v. Mays that a trooper's observation of a driver's drifting over the right line on the roadway twice in a mile-and-a-half span was sufficient "reasonable cause" for a traffic stop, even in the absence of any other indication of improper operation.  And in State v. Davis, the defendant had been charged with fourth-degree drug trafficking, and the trial court had permitted an amendment of the indictment during trial to increase the quantity of the drugs so as to make the crime a second-degree felony.  (Without objection by the defense, interestingly.)  The Supreme Court affirmed the 4th District's reversal of the conviction, holding that an indictment can't be amended to change the penalty or degree of an offense.

There was also a significant case on criminal appellate procedure.  Appellate Rule 26(B) allows a defendant to seek to reopen an appeal on grounds of ineffective assistance of appellate counsel.  The rule has been gutted by the insistence of many appellate districts (including the 8th, with a vengeance) that an appeal to the Supreme Court, even where the court refuses to hear the appeal, bars a 26(B) claim on grounds of res judicata.  In State v. Davis (yes, there were two "State v. Davis" decisions last week), the court puts the end to that, holding that the filing of a discretionary appeal with the Supreme Court doesn't create a bar to a merit ruling on a timely-filed 26(B) motion.

In civil cases, the court held that a guardian ad litem has standing to prosecute a motion to terminate parental rights and award permanent custody to a child services agency.  In Hutchings v. Childress, it held that a husband who provided home health care to his wife after her automobile accident could recover the fair market value of such care, but couldn't recover the wages he lost as a result of having to take off work to assist his wife.

There was one more significant decision:  Ohioans for Concealed Carry v. Clyde, in which the court struck down a municipal ordinance prohibiting the carrying of weapons in a city park, holding that the ordinance was not a valid exercise of home rule.  It has some special significance, given the upcoming decisions on how home rule effects the recent statute prohibiting municipalities from requiring their employees to live within the city.  I'll cover that one in more detail later this week.  And we'll do the courts of appeals cases tomorrow.

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