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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

While there are still 24 cases to be decided by the US Supreme Court before its term ends in two weeks, only three came down this past week, all involving Federal issues:  Barber v. Thomas concerned good-time credits for Federal prisoners, and Hamilton v. Lanning involved bankruptcy law. 

Perhaps the most interesting was a civil case, Krupski v. Costa Crociere, which concerned whether a motion to correct the name of a party after the statute of limitations had run "related back" to the original filing.  The Court unanimously said it did, taking a much more liberal view of Fed CivR 15 than the Ohio Supreme Court did of the state counterpart a few weeks back in Erwin v. Bryan; there, the court held that identifying "John Doe" defendants had to be done before the statute of limitations expired.

In addition to KRE v. Roberts, discussed Friday, the latter court handed down several decisions this past week.  In State v. Williams, they decided that the statute allowing involuntary commitment of a defendant who cannot be restored to competency is a civil, rather than criminal, proceeding, thus avoiding due process and equal protection problems.  Boley v. Goodyear Tire involved the question of whether Ohio's statute on asbestos exposure allows a lawsuit by someone who was exposed to the asbestos outside the owner's premises, in this case, the wife of an employee who died of mesothelioma as a result of breathing in asbestos dust when she shook her husband's workclothes out before laundering them.  No, it doesn't, concluded the court. 

In the courts of appeals, there's nothing of note in the civil side, but plenty  criminal cases...

Criminal.  9th District says witness's statements made to police when they responded to scene 8-9 minutes after witness had called 911 were "excited utterances"... Chutzpah award goes to defendant in this case; charged with sexually molesting his children, he subpoenaed the children to appear at his bond hearing.  5th District affirms grant of motion to quash... Separate animus existed for kidnapping and aggravated robbery charges where victims of home invasion were tied up and threatened, charges not allied offenses, 6th District holds... Trial court has no jurisdiction to entertain motion for new trial on basis of newly-discovered evidence where defendant had pled guilty, says 5th District; trial court can review contention under motion to withdraw plea... 9th District says increase in sentence after remand for resentencing due to failure to impose post-release controls not vindictive, original sentence was void... Defendant's refusal to sign Miranda rights waiver form before interrogation not conclusive evidence that waiver was involuntary, 2nd District rules... Warrant to search home does not authorize search of automobile, no exigent circumstances for search exist where driver fled, leaving car parked and locked, says 6th District... Failure to veryify address as sex offender is strict liability offense, does not require culpable mental state, says 1st District...

Oh, the humanity!  In September of 2003, there was an explosion at a chemical factory in Miamisburg, Ohio.  Those living within a one-mile radius of the facility were evacuated as a precautionary measure, but returned to their homes 24 hours later.  No one suffered any injuries, but that ceased being a sine qua non for tort claims years ago.  A class action was filed for nuisance; typical was the testimony of 10-year-old Taylor Ferguson, who told the jury that she and her friends were sent to a  basement crawl space for five or six minutes after the explosion, which was "really weird," caused everybody to be "upset," and was "just really awkward."  The jury awarded Taylor $100 for her plight, and those who suffered similar horrors received compensation of between $35 and $625.  The court of appeals reversed, finding that the trial court had unfairly restricted damages; last week in Banford v. Aldrich Chem. Co., the Supreme Court reverses that, holding that damages for nuisance require physical discomfort, not just fear and emotional harm.


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