Welcome to The Briefcase

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


Case Update

What's that stuff about the wheels of justice grinding slowly?  Don't tell that to Mark Brown.  Well, actually you couldn't if you wanted to:  he's dead.  He'd been on Ohio's death row since he was convicted of killing a Youngstown store owner and a clerk back in 1994, while apparently trying to copy a scene from the movie "Menace II Society."  There was the last-minute flurry of attempts to obtain a stay of his execution, culminating in the Supreme Court's order last Wednesday giving the State until six that evening to respond to Brown's latest memorandum in support of jurisdiction.  Whatever the prosecutor managed to cobble together at the last minute worked:  Brown's appeal was refused, and he was executed the next morning.

In other decisions, the court wades back into the PRC swamp in State v. Jordan.  The court has consistently held that in order for post-release controls to be valid, the trial court must not only include imposition of them in the journal entry, but must orally advise the defendant of them at sentencing.  Jordan was convicted of escape, and argued that there was no evidence introduced of the latter.  No matter, says the court; there was ample evidence that Jordan knew he was under PRC -- he'd reported to three meetings with his PO -- and that was sufficient.  It's a very narrow ruling, though:  there was no evidence to show that the judge hadn't orally advised Jordan of PRC.  Simply put, the case stands for the proposition that the State doesn't have the burden of proof on that point, and in the absence of evidence on that, the State can still make its case.

The court handed down its usual spate of disciplinary decisions, one with substantial impact on criminal discovery, the other of which teaches that if you're planning on getting married after your divorce is final, you might want to hold off telling your soon-to-be ex-wife about the impending nuptials until after she's signed off on all the paperwork

On to the courts of appeals...

Civil.  1st District says that motorcyle officer's going through red light without lights or siren at 20-30 mph is insufficient as a matter of law to establish wilful and wanton misconduct for sovereign immunity purposes... 9th District says that defendant claiming that trial court incorrectly approved agreed journal entry without his attorney's approval should have appealed, motion to vacate not a substitute...

Criminal.  Another rejection of the Oregon v. Ice argument re consecutive sentences by the 10th District... 8th District points out that trial judge still has jurisdiction to consider post-conviction relief petition, even while appeal from conviction is pending... Trial court did not err in instructing jury on complicity, even where defendant was the only one who was alleged to have engaged in any criminal activity, says 9th District in somewhat opaque ruling... 12th District says that two receiving stolen property counts, one relating to radio and one relating to credit cards, both arising out of the same incident, should have merged as allied offenses... Defendant found in hotel room with .46 grams of crack cocaine, plus video showing him smoking crack in room, charged with two counts of possession, 12th District says both counts committed with single animus, thus merge... Where defendant represented by attorney who also represented informant in defendant's case, trial court's failure to determine whether actual conflict of interest existed, and failure to advise defendant of right to another attorney, requires reversal, says 3rd District; opinion contains excellent discussion of law on conflict of interest in criminal cases...

Still crazy after all these years.  In Wilson v. Wilson-Michelakis, the 10th District upholds a custody award to the father, based largely on a psychological report noting a "wide gap between [mother's] actual functional capacities and her inflated estimation of her own abilities."  Typifying that, said the report, was an email the mother had sent to her in-laws concerning an ultrasound during her pregnancy:

Without the benefit of any formal medical education, appellant purported in this email to interpret the ultrasound and give a detailed impression of the health of the fetus, even assessing the unborn child's personality.  Appellant purported to provide an organ-by-organ review of the unborn child's health, and feared that the baby would require "immediate reconstructive surgery after birth" due to a jaw condition that appellant could purportedly discern from this ultrasound image.

The report also noted that the mother "misrepresented herself as a member of hereditary Greek royalty."


Recent Entries

  • November 15, 2017
    What's Up in the 8th
    Plea withdrawals (again), sexual predator hearings, and an appellate law question
  • November 7, 2017
    What's Up in the 8th
    Don't listen to prosecutors about the law, good new/bad news jokes on appeal, and the Byzantine course of a death penalty case
  • October 24, 2017
    What's Up in the 8th
    Trying to change the past
  • October 16, 2017
    En banc on sentencing
    The 8th District takes a look at what State v. Marcum means
  • October 13, 2017
    Friday Roundup
    Musings about the death penalty and indigent defense
  • October 11, 2017
    Case Update
    SCOTUS starts its new term, and the Ohio Supreme Court hands down two decisions
  • October 10, 2017
    What's Up in the 8th
    Collaboration by inmates, fun in Juvenile Court, the limits of Creech, and more
  • October 5, 2017
    State v. Thomas
    The Ohio Supreme Court reverses a death penalty conviction
  • October 4, 2017
    Russ' Excellent Adventure
    A juror doesn't like me. Boo-hoo.
  • October 3, 2017
    What's Up in the 8th
    What not to argue on appeal, waiving counsel, the perils of being a juvenile, and expert witnesses