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On the road again

Jay from the Supreme Court calls me last week, to tell me how it's going to go for my oral argument in Meigs County on Wednesday. 

Meigs County? 

Yep.  Every year, the Supreme Court decides to hold oral arguments "off site."  Translation:  away from the comfy confines of their building in Columbus, and instead in some place in the hinterlands.  One year they held it here in Cleveland, at Case Western University Law School, my alma mater.  Couldn't do that this year, oh no.  It's going to be in the gymnasium at the Pomeroy High School in Meigs County.  So not only will I be sweating, I'll be able to smell the sweat of those who have gone before me.

I couldn't have told you where Meigs County was at gunpoint, so I looked it up on Google.  Best I can figure, you go down I-77, hang a left at Nowhere, go another thirty miles, and there you are.  It's a little under four hours.

The guy from the Supreme Court was helpful.  He gave me the address of the high school.  Since I was going to stay overnight, I asked him what hotels there were in Pomeroy that he could recommend.  "Well, there aren't any," he confided.  "Everybody's staying up in Athens."  I found a room at the Holiday Inn Express, so, at least according to their ads, it will make me smarter.  Unfortunately, Jay told me that the justices are staying there, too, so it will make them smarter, which probably isn't a good thing for me.

I'm going to be arguing State v. Jones, the case on pre-indictment delay.  I've talked about it before; the very short version is that a woman claims that Jones raped her in the bedroom of his mother's apartment, with his mother sitting outside, supposedly oblivious to the woman's screams.  Although she clearly identified Jones by name, and gave the address where the incident allegedly occurred, the detective dropped by her house and made a phone call to her, and not getting a response to either, closed out the file five days later.  Nothing more was done on the case until they got a CODIS hit on Jones almost twenty years later; he was indicted the day before the statute of limitations expired.  His mother, who would certainly have been a critical witness for a consent defense, had died almost three years earlier.

The State and the Attorney General's office have amassed what seems like just short of three thousand cases holding that in order to establish "actual prejudice" for the pre-indictment delay analysis, I have to show that the lost evidence is "specific, concrete, non-speculative, and exculpatory."  In short, I have to show what the dead woman would have testified to, despite the fact that the only reason we don't know what she would have testified to is because the detective spent as much time investigating the case as I do in planning my weekly trip to the grocery store.

So, we'll hammer that out.  Meantime, an abbreviated schedule here.  I'll have the normal roundup of 8th District cases tomorrow - be afraid, be very afraid - and I'll tell you how the argument in Jones went on Thursday or Friday.  I'm off the following week (at least from here) to take a short vacation and get some work done.

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