Upcoming Supreme Court arguments
'Tis the season... for oral arguments, anyway. The US Supreme Court calendar gets under way on October 6, but today we'll look at the lineup of Ohio Supreme Court cases which are scheduled for argument next Tuesday and Wednesday.
Fletcher v. University Hospitals. (Links are to the lower court decisions). This case involves the failure of a medical malpractice plaintiff to attach the Civil Rule 10(D)(2) affidavit of merit to her complaint. The defendant filed a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim under 12(B)(6), but the 8th District decided that the appropriate procedure was for the defendant to file a motion for more definite statement. The case is pretty much one of first impression, but the 8th District hasn't had a good track record on civil cases getting affirmed recently, so I wouldn't be surprised to see the Supreme Court take a stricter approach.
State v. Cefantanti. This involves Ohio's speedy trial rights for prisoners statute, RC 2941.401, which I discussed here. The statute specifies that a prisoner has to be brought to trial within 180 days after providing notice to the prosecutor and court that he is available for trial. Here, the defendant's attorney sent certified letters to the prosecutor and court telling them Cenfantanti was in a Federal prison, and demanding a trial. The trial court noted that he was "unavailable for prosecution," and took no action. Cefantanti didn't comply with the other requirements of the statute: a certificate of the warden stating the term of commitment, time served, etc. The 5th District reversed, saying that he'd done all he was could do, and it was up to the state to notify the warden when it got Cenfantanti's letter. There's an additional issue of whether anybody actually received the letters; there's no green card from the post office indicating receipt. The Supreme Court might use that to evade the issue, but if it does confront it, I'd expect an affirmance.
State v. Winn. Another biggie on allied offenses; the 2nd District had held that aggravated robbery and kidnapping convictions merged because the victim had been moved only a few feet. The state's taking a rather hard-line position: aggravated robbery and kidnapping never merge. I'll have more on this after the oral argument.
Middleburg Heights v. Quinones. In many traffic cases, you'll have a client who's charged with multiple offenses: DUI, speeding, improper lane change, not having a seat belt. You work out a plea to the DUI, with the other cases dismissed. Except that your client gets hit for court costs on all four cases. At $80+ a pop, that adds a lot of coin to municipal coffers. The 8th District put a stop to that last year, holding that the court could impose costs for only one offense, and as I pointed out when I blogged about the case, the caterwauling from municipalities could be heard from one end of the state to the other. No idea how this one is going to turn out.
By the way, a very good way to keep track of the criminal cases pending before the Ohio Supreme Court is through the Ohio Public Defender website. Steve Hardwick, who's one of the head guys on appeals down there, does a super job of keeping on top of what's happening. You can access his list here. It's a little dicier finding it on the web site; it's the first link listed under "Recent Developments," when you scroll down a bit.