Justia Criminal Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Supreme Court of Ohio
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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the court of appeals affirming Defendant's convictions on charges relating to the murder of Robert Williams, holding that there was sufficient evidence to support the convictions. Defendant was convicted and sentenced for aggravated murder, conspiracy, aggravated burglary, and kidnapping. At issue on appeal was whether there was sufficient evidence to support the jury's verdicts that Defendant, who did pull the trigger killing Williams, had conspired to murder Williams and had been complicit in the acts leading to his death. The Supreme Court concluded that the verdicts were based upon sufficient evidence, holding that the evidence of Defendant's involvement in the crimes associated with the killing of Williams was sufficient to find her guilty of the crimes. View "State v. McFarland" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court held that the enhanced penalty for unlawful sexual conduct with a minor does not apply when previous alleged criminal conduct predates the prior conviction, but rather, the enhancement only applies if, at the time of the offense, the offender has previously been convicted of a qualifying sex crime. In 2016, Defendant was convicted of one count of unlawful sexual conduct with a minor, in violation of Ohio Rev. Code 2907.04. In 2017, Defendant was again indicted for unlawful sexual conduct with a minor. The 2017 indictment alleged that the criminal behavior occurred before the 2016 conviction. The 2017 indictment sought to enhance the charges under section 2907.04(B)(4), which elevates the penalty for violating section 2907.04 if the defendant "previously has been convicted of" certain sex crimes. Defendant moved to dismiss the indictment, arguing that the enhancement does not apply when the alleged criminal conduct predates the prior conviction. The trial court granted the motion. The court of appeals reversed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that, in order for the enhancement to apply, a defendant must have a qualifying conviction when he commits the charged offense. View "State v. Pendergrass" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the court of appeals dismissing Appellant's petition for a writ of mandamus against Muskingum County Court of Common Pleas Judge Mark Fleegle, holding that Appellant had an adequate remedy in the ordinary course of the law. Appellant, an inmate, filed a petition for a writ of mandamus seeking an order directing Judge Fleegle to "correct" his sentence. The court of appeals dismissed the petition for failure to state a claim. Appellant appealed, arguing that he met the elements for a writ of mandamus because his sentence was void and he had no adequate remedy at law. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Appellant had an adequate remedy by way of appeal to challenge any alleged sentencing error. View "State ex rel. King v. Fleegle" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court held that a civil-stalking protection order enjoining future online postings about Plaintiffs imposed an unconstitutional prior restraint on protected speech in violation of the First Amendment. Plaintiffs each filed a petition for a civil-stalking protection order (CSPO) against Defendant. The trial court granted the petitions and issued CSPOs that, among other things, prohibited Defendant from posting about Plaintiffs on any social media service, website, or discussion board. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed the court of appeals' judgment to the extent that it upheld the trial court's CSPOs enjoining future postings about Plaintiffs or postings that express, imply or suggest that Plaintiffs were culpable in the deaths of their husbands, holding that this portion of the CSPOs did not survive strict scrutiny. View "Bey v. Rasawehr" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the court of appeals denying a writ of mandamus sought by Appellant to compel Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas Judge Daniel Gaul to vacate his convictions, holding that the court of appeals was correct in concluding that Appellant's mandamus request failed as a matter of law. Appellant was found guilty of multiple rape and kidnapping counts and was sentenced to an aggregate prison term of fifty years to life. Appellant later filed a mandamus complaint to compel Judge Gaul to vacate his convictions, alleging that the trial court dismissed the first indictment against him on speedy-trial grounds and that he was protected against reindictment under the Double Jeopardy Clause. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Appellant's claims were barred by res judicata. View "State ex rel. Thomas v. Gaul" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the court of appeals affirming Defendant's conviction for driving his vehicle fifteen miles per hour over the posted speed limit, holding that the results of a speed-measuring device using either radar or laser technology are admissible in court without expert testimony establishing, or the court taking judicial notice of, the reliability of the scientific principles underlying that technology. During Defendant's bench trial, the trial court admitted into evidence and considered the results of the laser speed-detection device that was used in calculating Defendant's excessive speed without establishing the reliability of the scientific principles underlying the device's technology. The trial court convicted Defendant without specifically taking judicial notice of the device's reliability. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the results of a radar speed-measuring device may be admitted into evidence without expert testimony establishing the reliability of the scientific principles underlying the technology or the court taking judicial notice of the scientific principles underlying that technology; and (2) the fact-finder is required to determine whether the evidence concerning the accuracy of the particular speed-measuring device and the qualifications of the person who used it are sufficient to support a conviction based on the device's results. View "City of Brook Park v. Rodojev" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the court of appeals dismissing Appellant's petition for a writ of mandamus against Summit County Court of Common Pleas Judge Alison M. Breaux, holding that Appellant was not entitled to relief on his propositions of law. Appellant was convicted of rape and domestic violence. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court summarily vacated the lower courts' judgments and remanded the case to the trial court for resentencing. After a new sentencing hearing the trial court issued a new sentencing entry. Appellant filed a motion to correct a void sentence arguing that the trial court had exceeded the scope of the Supreme Court's remand order when it purportedly imposed a harsher sentence than it had imposed in the original sentencing entry. The trial court denied the motion. Appellant subsequently sought a writ of mandamus to compel the trial court to conduct a new sentencing hearing. The court of appeals granted Judge Breaux's motion to dismiss. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Appellant's propositions of law either lacked merit or were not cognizable in mandamus. View "State ex rel. Simmons v. Breaux" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the court of appeals dismissing Appellant's habeas corpus petition against the warden of the Richland Correctional Institution (RCI), holding that the court of appeals did not err in dismissing the petition for failure to attach all the relevant commitment papers, as required by Ohio Rev. Code 2725.04(D). Appellant, an inmate at RCI, filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus alleging that the prison sentences he was serving had expired and that, therefore, he was entitled to immediate release. The warden filed a motion to dismiss Appellant's petition but did not raise the sufficiency of the commitment papers attached to the petition as grounds for dismissal or summary judgment. Nonetheless, the court of appeals dismissed the petition on the basis that Appellant had failed to comply with section 2725.04(D). The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that, by failing to attach all the relevant commitment papers to his petition, Appellant did not comply with section 2725.04(D). View "State ex rel. Miller v. May" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part the judgment of the court of appeals affirming the decision of the trial court revoking Defendant's community control and imposing the prison sentence that it had notified Defendant of at his initial sentencing hearing, holding that consecutive sentences were not properly imposed in this case. The court of appeals concluded (1) because the trial court had notified Defendant at his initial sentencing hearing of the specific prison terms that the court could impose if Defendant were to violate his community-control conditions, it was not required to repeat that notification before it imposed the prison terms at a second revocation hearing; and (2) the trial court had not been required to make consecutive-sentences findings required under Ohio Rev. Code 2929.14(c) when it revoked Defendant's community control and imposed consecutive prison terms. The Supreme Court reversed in part, holding (1) the trial court provided Defendant sufficient notice of the specific prison terms he could receive if his community control were to be revoked; but (2) a trial court must make statutorily required consecutive-sentences findings when it imposes consecutive sentences following the revocation of community control. View "State v. Howard" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court dismissed this appeal brought by Appellant challenging the court of appeals' denial of his motion to certify a conflict, holding that this Court lacked the authority to review of the court of appeals' decision. Appellant was serving sentences for seven rape convictions when he filed a petition in the Second District Court of Appeals for a writ of prohibition and/or mandamus alleging that the trial judge in his case patently and unambiguously lacked jurisdiction to sentence him for one of the offenses. The Second District granted summary judgment for the judge. The Supreme Court affirmed. Appellant, in the meantime, filed a motion asking the Second District to certify that its judgment conflicts with other appellate decisions. The Second District denied the motion. The Supreme Court affirmed, noting that the Court lacks the authority to review a court of appeals' decision declining to certify the existence of a conflict. View "State ex rel. Kendrick v. Parker" on Justia Law