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Case Update

Ah, Monday, and here you are, thirsting with knowledge.  What information shall I impart?  A preview of the Supreme Court argument today in Foster v. Chatman, an opportunity for the Court to re-examine the Batson holding?  An analysis of the Ohio Supreme Court's decision last week in a death penalty case?  Nope.  It's this:

Ruth Bader Ginsburg does twenty push-ups a day. 

And according to this article, she did all kinds of stuff - parasailing, white water rafting - well into her seventies.  Kinds of stuff that I didn't do in my twenties, let alone now.  I guess if I hadn't subscribed to Jerry Seinfeld's admonition to avoid sports where the object is to not die, I'd be on the Supreme Court right now. 

As for Foster, Foster is a black man convicted and sentenced to death for killing a white woman.  As I explained before, the defense team subsequently obtained a copy of the prosecution's notes, which included a color ("colored"?) scheme by which black juries were identified in green highlighter, with various notations and suggestions on how to remove them while offering a non-racial reason for doing so.  The prosecution used peremptories to remove all four blacks from the jury.  Putting an additional racial spin on the case is the prosecutor's telling the jury in closing argument, "We have got to believe that if you send somebody to death, that you deter other people out there in the projects from doing the same again."  We'll see what happens, but the defense seems to have a point that if the record in this case doesn't convince the Court that "purposeful discrimination" occurred here, it "will render Batson meaningless." 

In State v. Dean, the Ohio Supreme Court affirms Dean's conviction and death sentence for killing one person and attempting to kill six others, in a series of three crimes.  He argues that trying the three cases together prejudiced him, but that's not an argument you're going to win if the three cases are part of a continuing course of criminal conduct.  Dean does add a twist to the joinder argument:  he claims that he would have wanted to testify about one of the shootings but not the others, and thus having a joint trial violated his 5th Amendment rights.  The court dealt with that issue 35 years ago, and held that this required a "convincing showing" that the defendant has "important testimony" to give concerning one case, and "a strong need to refrain from testifying in the other."  I'm not sure how you make a convincing showing that you're got important testimony to give without actually testifying, but that's the standard.

A couple of cases in the courts of appeals... 

The Supreme Court's 2013 decision in State v. Pariag rears its ugly head in the 9th District's decision in City of Stow v. S.B.  S.B. had been charged with DUI and public indecency, pled guilty to the latter and to an amended charge of physical control, and three years later sought to seal his public indecency conviction. 

The problem?  In Pariag, the defendant had been charged with a traffic violation and two misdemeanor drug offenses, and pled to the traffic violation in return for dismissal of the drug charges.  When he sought to seal the records of the drug arrest, the State pointed to RC 2953.61, which provides that when a person is charged with two or more offenses, he can't ask to expunge the conviction or seal the arrest records in any of them until he is entitled to do it for all of them.  So Pariag couldn't have his drug charges sealed until he could have his traffic violation expunged, but traffic violations can't be expunged, because nobody cares about them except the auto insurance companies.  That's some catch, that Catch-22.

S.B. fares better than Pariag did:  the 9th District notes that RC 2953.61 only applies where the multiple cases have different dispositions, and here S.B. pled guilty to both, so he can have the drug charge sealed.  If any of this makes sense to you, please let me know.

So you filed that suppression motion, but you know it's going nowhere.  The cop will testify that he saw your client cross the fog line several times, and your client will testify he didn't, and let's take a wild guess as to which one the judge is going to believe.

Well, buck up, buddy boy!  That's what happened in State v. Wood.  The highway patrol trooper testified that he stopped Wood's vehicle because the rear license plate wasn't illuminated, but Wood testified that she'd been stopped for the same reason a month earlier, and so got a bulb for it; according to her, the light was working then, and was still working on the day of the suppression hearing.  And, mirabile dictu, the judge bought Woods' testimony.  The 11th District affirms, although it's hard to see why the State even bothered with an appeal:  that's the kind of credibility dispute that no appellate court is going to second-guess.

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