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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

People complain about how long it takes to carry out a death sentence, but there are times when the system can move with alacrity.  Romell Brown was sentenced to death back in 1985 for the kidnapping and murder of 14-year-old Tryna Middleton.  His quarter-century attempt to avoid execution seemed to pay off on July 30 of this year, when the 8th District reversed a decision denying him post-conviction relief, holding that the trial court should have reviewed police records he'd obtained after his conviction. 

The State filed a notice of appeal with the Supreme Court on August 31.  On September 2, the court accepted the appeal, ordered the State to file a merit brief on the 4th, the defense to file theirs on the 8th.  The State had until the 9th to file a reply brief.

On the 11th, this past Friday, in State v. Broom, the court reversed the 8th.  Broom's execution will go forward tomorrow.

Broom was the only decision out of Columbus.  In Washington, SCOTUS had a special session to hear oral arguments on whether the funding of a movie which said bad things about Hillary Clinton violated the campaign finance reform laws, and from the looks of it, those laws are going to take a major hit.

In the courts of appeals, lots of civil stuff.   Apparently, some judge on the 2nd District must have gotten a speeding ticket he didn't think he deserved, because there were four, count'em, four reversals of criminal cases by the 2nd...

Civil.  8th District holds that governmental subdivision protected by sovereign immunity from claims of negligent hiring or supervision... 10th District rules that plaintiff can't pursue an action for intentional interference with expectancy of inheritance until he pursues probate court remedy, if available; if he wins will contest, he has no damages for IIEI action... Concurring opinion in this 9th District case notes that while Supreme Court has stated that trial court's decision on motion to vacate judgment is reviewed for abuse of discretion, in practice Court has applied de novo review... Court not obligated to accept shared parenting plan simply because both parents have agreed to it, says 10th District... 12th District holds that accident report on slip-and-fall prepared by store and sent to its attorney is not work product, but is privileged as attorney-client communication... 9th District says that award of attorneys fees in trial court in fraud action does not allow that court to award further attorney fees for appeal from that judgment...

Criminal.  12th District considers whether Oregon v. Ice overruled Foster with regard to consecutive sentences (see discussion here), says its up to the Supreme Court to resolve that...  2nd District says trial court erred in peremptorily removing defendant's retained attorney and appointing counsel because of retained attorney's health problems... 4th District holds that where jury rendered verdict of forfeiture during criminal trial, failure of defense to file motion to contest forfeiture prior to trial waives issue of sufficiency of evidence... 2nd District says defendant prejudiced when trial court allowed detective to testify that he'd gotten an anonymous tip that he "needed to look" at the defendant for a robbery the detective was investigating... 2nd District holds that failure to include proper mens rea in indictment can't be cured by amending indictment at trial, since it changes "identity of offense"... 5th District holds that trial judge's sua sponte continuance of trial date because he was on vacation tolled speedy trial time... More from the 2nd:  Failure of police to obtain arrest warrant when they had reasonable opportunity to do so -- three weeks after controlled buy of drugs -- voids arrest, even when based on probable cause.  Issue was raised by court on its own; trial court never addressed it, defense never argued it...

Things they need to cover in law school.  As the 9th District notes in State v. Wells, when you plead no contest to an indictment charging you with drug possession, you can't appeal on the grounds that the evidence is insufficient to convict you of drug possession.  That's what trials are for.

The point at which my eyes glaze over.  When I come across stuff like this, courtesy of the 10th District's decision in State v. Kepiro, concerning its decision in an earlier appeal by the defendant, and the Supreme Court's resolution of a 3rd District decision on a similar issue in State v. Sessler.

Defendant asserts that because the Supreme Court found Sessler I conflicts with Kepiro I, the court necessarily discredited Kepiro I when it affirmed Sessler I in Sessler III. Defendant maintains that, in light of the Supreme Court's decision in Sessler III, this court must reverse our resolution of the issue in Kepiro I raised again in this appeal.


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