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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

The US Supreme Court finished off its term with the big affirmative action decision in Ricci v. Stefano.  In addition to its legal impact, the decision could have political consequences as well:  it overruled a 2nd District decision in which Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor had participated.  The Court's ruling won't make it easy for Republicans to argue that Sotomayor was wildly off-base in her ruling -- the decision was 5-4, and Kennedy's majority opinion stressed that the state of the law was "a difficult inquiry" and that the "holding today clarifies how Title VII applies" -- but since that's about the only stick the Republicans have, expect them to use it.  Next week, I'll have my review of the Supreme Court term. 

A couple notable decisions from Columbus.  In Roe v. Planned Parenthood, the parents of a 14-year-old who'd obtained an abortion at the instance of a school teacher who'd gotten her pregnant sued the clinic and sought all medical records, with patient information redacted, of minors who'd had abortions.  The court rejected the request, holding that a litigant has no right to seek medical records of nonparties in a private lawsuit. 

In State v. Trimble, the defendant had killed his girlfriend and her 7-year-old son, then took a hostage and killed her when the SWAT team cornered him.  At Trimble's capital trial, the prosecution introduced 19 firearms that had been found in his home, with an ATF expert identifying each one; the judge subsequently permitted the firearms to be in the jury room during deliberations in the guilt phase.  The court finds this to be error, but an inconsequential one; the firearms were excluded during the penalty phase, by which time I'm sure the jury forgot all about them.  It says here that the Federal court's going to kick that out on habeas.

On to the courts of appeals...

Criminal.  9th District rejects ineffective assistance of counsel claim, says that advice to client on whether to testify is "strategic decision"... Rarity:  3rd District throws out delinquency finding in rape case on basis of corpus delicti rule, says that only evidence was 10-year-old defendant's confession... Any Colon error in aggravated robbery indictment is waived by plea of guilty, says 9th District... 6th District rejects argument that trial court has duty to inquire into reasons for Alford plea in order to determine that defendant's plea is result of rational calculation; statement of evidence State would prove is sufficient...  Great 9th District case holding that juvenile's waiver of Miranda rights wasn't knowingly made... 10th District says that trial court need not explain elements of offenses at plea hearing, record need only indicate that defendant understood them; 8th District comes to same conclusion...  6th District vacates restitution order, says trial judge must consider defendant's ability to pay... Good discussion in this 1st District case as to how far trial judge can go in participating in plea discussions...

Civil.  10th District says that service on defendant at property he owned was "reasonably calculated" to reach him, despite fact he'd moved out... 2nd District says probate court didn't abuse discretion in awarding equal shares of wrongful death suit to son and two grandsons... 11th District says that tire stop in parking lot was open and obvious hazard, fact that it was mostly obscured by plaintiff's vehicle not an attendant circumstance...

Good news, bad news joke of the week.  In State v. Williams, the 9th District agrees that the evidence was insufficient to support Williams' conviction for violation of a protection order, a third degree felony for which he was sentenced to five years in prison.  It rejects all his other assignments of error relating to his convictions for aggravated murder, kidnapping, aggravated burglary, and various other charges.  His combined sentence of 64 years in prison on those charges remain.

About time.  In Mallette v. Penske, the 6th District reverses a grant of summary judgment in a negligence case on the grounds that the trial court weighed evidence, instead of simply deciding whether there was a genuine dispute of material fact.  It's nice to see a reversal for that, but judges do that all the time.  I had a case where the trial court kicked me out on summary judgment in an intentional tort case, stating in the judgment entry that "the plaintiffs failed to meet their burden of proof."  Isn't that what we have juries for?  By the way, the 9th District affirmed it.

Not that I'm bitter or anything.


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