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Case Update

Bad news for Sandra Griffin.  A couple of weeks ago I wrote that her conviction for capital murder had been set aside because, contrary to State v. Baker, there were separate journal entries for the conviction and the sentence, and Baker says they have to be one document.   In State v. Ketterer, the Ohio Supreme Court holds that Baker's one-document rule doesn't apply to capital cases, since RC 2929.03(F) requires the trial court to issue a separate sentencing opinion, in addition to the judgment of conviction.  Ketterer does get a new sentencing hearing, the only purpose of which will be to properly impose post-release controls.  I'm not the only one to note the pointlessness of sending people back for resentencing hearings for that purpose, but it's beyond pointless in Ketterer's case:  the three-judge panel, to whom he'd pled guilty, had sentenced him to death, so I'd guess that PRC is somewhere in the middle of page 12 on his list of worries.  And if you read the preceding sentence and said, "why did he plead guilty if the death penalty was still on the table?", you're like me, although this story might indicate there was no way it wasn't going to turn out like this. 

Lot's of disciplinary cases this week, which mostly prove that your mother was right when she told you not to lie.  And paying more attention in math class might have helped, too:  that way, you wouldn't submit assigned counsel fee bills showing you'd worked 3,431 hours in a single year

On to the courts of appeals...

Criminal.  Where state has presented sufficient evidence to show attempted murder, juvenile court errs in sua sponte amending charge to voluntary manslaughter in order to avoid mandatory bindover of 14-year-old boy, says 1st District... 6th District holds that vehicular assault is not lesser included offense of aggravated assault... While judge need not hold hearing before imposing fine, even on indigent defendant, record must show that he considered defendant's ability to pay, rules 8th District... 9th District says that indictment for retaliation need not include the predicate offense... Rule does not require that trial court must inform defendant of constitutional rights before accepting guilty plea to misdemeanor, says 1st District... 5th District rejects claim that disparity between crack and powder cocaine penalties is unconstitutional... 6th District tosses search, says no evidence that cat feeder had authority to consent to warrantless police entry of defendant's house, no reason for police to believe that he did...

Civil.  Punitive damages may be awared in conversion action, 1st District holds... Defendant not entitled to findings of fact and conclusions of law in ruling on motion for default judgment, says 8th District... CivR 15(C) cannot be used to amend complaint to include a party against whom statute of limitations has expired, notes 8th District... Trial court erred in permitting doctor in workers comp case to be impeached with his 1981 conviction, says 10th District... 6th District reverses an entry regarding child visitation because magistrate had an ex parte communication with father's attorney about entry...

Alford pleas.  The prosecutor's office up here doesn't allow Alford pleas -- where the defendant pleads guilty while maintaining his innocence -- and the 2nd District's decision in State v. Mapes might indicate why.  Alford holds that even though a defendant might believe he's innocent, he could make a rational calculation that he'd be better off taking a plea deal.  In Mapes, the trial judge had gone into detail on how much prison time Mapes faced if he were convicted -- about 44 years, versus the 26 maximum the plea entailed (he got 10) -- but there was no proffer of what the evidence would have been.  The Alford calculation involves two factors, the 2nd holds:  not only the length of possible punishment, but the likelihood of that punishment being inflicted, i.e., the chances of conviction.  Here, there was nothing "from which the court could conclude that Defendant had rationally calculated that it was in his best interest to accept the State's plea offer because he would be convicted if he did not."

Puzzler of the week.  The average expenses incurred in prosecuting a medical malpractice action are somewhere north of $75,000, lawyers who do that for a living tell me.  Davis v. Firelands Reg'l Medical Center presents the question:  If you're going to invest that kind of coin, why in the world would you scrimp on the transcript on appeal, and present only the direct and cross-examination of two experts and the direct testimony of two others, especially when your appeal presents issues of weight of the evidence?  And were you really surprised when the appellate court said that the failure to present the whole transcript left them unable to consider your argument?

The importance of proofreading.  From the 6th District's decision in State v. Hall:

Before any discussion of appellant's assignments of error, we must point out that appellant's argument set out under his Assignment of Error No. II actually should be part of his Assignment of Error No. III and shall be addressed under that assignment of error. Furthermore, a reading of the argument made by appellant under his Assignment of Error No. IV reveals that it is made in support of appellant's Assignment of Error No. I. It shall therefore be considered under that assignment. Finally, appellant's argument that relates to Assignment of Error No. IV is found within the body of Assignment of Error No. III. This argument will be dealt with under Assignment of Error No. IV.

Not Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood.  In State v. Collier, the 2nd District vacates the defendant's conviction for criminal mischief, finding that Collier's putting a note on his neighbors garbage can and placing a stick over it so it wouldn't blow away did not satisfy the statute's requirements that the defendant "move, deface, damage, destroy, or tamper" with another's property.  The note read:

Grey's and my chicken legs. Don't worry about my business! Worry about that $ 300.00 + check you bounced and the late charge by the credit union. You make $ 500/per pay. Peanuts 15 years on the job/no education. Close your blinds. Watchin you and that hippo have sex is repulsive. You need to detox and go to AA, drunk.

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