Articles Posted in Constitutional Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the court of appeals concluding that the exclusionary rule is not the appropriate remedy when police executing a valid search warrant violate the requirements of the knock-and-announce statute, Ohio Rev. Code 2935.12. The court of appeals reversed the judgment of the trial court granting Defendants’ motion to suppress all evidence obtained during the search of an apartment. The trial court found that police had violated section 2935.12 without any exigent circumstances justifying the violation. The Supreme Court agreed with the appellate court and remanded the cause to the trial court for further proceedings, holding that the exclusion of evidence is not the proper remedy for a violation of the knock-and-announce statute. View "State v. Bembry" on Justia Law

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Under Ohio law, an employer may appeal a determination by the Industrial Commission that an employee has the right to participate in the workers’ compensation fund, and although the employer files the appeal in the common pleas court, the employee is the plaintiff. At issue was whether a provision enacted in 2006 allowing an employee to dismiss an employer-initiated appeal only with the consent of the employer is constitutional. The court of appeals in this case affirmed the trial court’s judgment declaring the so-called “consent provision” of Ohio Rev. Code 4123.512(D) unconstitutional. The trial court concluded that the consent provision was unconstitutional on the grounds of due process and equal protection and violates the doctrine of separation of powers. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the consent provision of section 4123.512(D) does not improperly conflict with the Ohio Rules of Civil Procedure, nor does it violate the equal-protection or due-process guarantees of the federal and state Constitutions. View "Ferguson v. State" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant’s convictions of aggravated murder with three death specifications and his sentence of death. The court held (1) the trial court did not err by denying Defendant’s motion for change of venue; (2) Defendant’s trial counsel did not render ineffective assistance in conducting voir dire; (3) the trial court did not err by denying Defendant’s motion to suppress the murder weapon as evidence; (4) the trial court did not err in refusing to suppress Defendant’s post-arrest statements; (5) the evidence was legally sufficient to convict Defendant of tampering with evidence; (6) guilt-phase evidence was properly used against Defendant in the penalty phase; (7) the state did not make improper statements during closing arguments in the penalty phase; (8) there was no error in the trial court’s sentencing opinion; and (9) the death sentence was proportionate to those affirmed in similar cases. View "State v. Martin" on Justia Law

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At issue in this case was whether three statutes regulating local authorities’ use of red-light and speedy cameras offend the home-rule powers granted to a municipality in Ohio Const. art. XVIII, 3 or whether they qualify as general laws. The court held (1) Ohio Rev. Code 4511.093(B)(1), which requires that a law-enforcement officer be present at the location of a traffic camera, is unconstitutional because it infringes on the municipality’s legislative authority without serving an overriding state interest; (2) Ohio Rev. Code 4511.0912, which prohibits the municipality from issuing a fine to a driver caught speeding by a traffic camera unless that driver reaches certain speeds, unconstitutionally limits the municipality’s legislative powers without serving an overriding state interest; and (3) Ohio Rev. Code 4511.095, which directs the municipality to perform a safety study and a public-information campaign prior to using a camera, unconstitutionally limits the municipality’s home-rule authority without serving an overriding state interest. The court thus reinstated the permanent injunction imposed by the trial court with respect to those three provisions. View "Dayton v. State" on Justia Law

Posted in: Constitutional Law

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The placement of a suspect in the front seat of a police vehicle during a traffic stop is not alone determinative of whether the suspect has been subjected to a custodial interrogation. In this case, a state highway patrol trooper initiated a traffic stop of Defendant. The trooper asked Defendant to step out of his car and sit in the front seat of the patrol car, where the trooper asked Defendant how much alcohol he had consumed that evening. The trooper then asked Defendant to perform field sobriety tests. Defendant was subsequently cited with two counts of operating a motor vehicle while under the influence. Defendant filed a motion to suppress, arguing that the statements he made to the trooper while he sat in the front seat of the patrol car were obtained without the procedural safeguards established in Miranda v. Arizona. The court granted the motion to suppress. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed and remanded, holding that the relevant inquiry as to whether a suspect has been subjected to a custodial interrogation is whether, under the totality of the circumstances, a reasonable person in the suspect’s position would have understood himself or herself to be in custody. View "Cleveland v. Oles" on Justia Law

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Appellant, who was sentenced to a twelve-year term after he was arrested while on parole, filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus, arguing that the Department of Rehabilitation and Correction improperly calculated his total sentence and violated his due process and equal protection rights by taking him into custody following his arrest without the “required on-site hearing.” The court of appeals dismissed the petition on the basis of res judicata. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the court of appeals erred by dismissing Appellant’s habeas corpus petition on the basis of res judicata because res judicata is not among the affirmative defenses that may be raised in a Ohio R. Civ. P. 12(B) motion to dismiss; but (2) Appellant’s petition was properly dismissed because it failed to state a claim. View "Johnson v. Moore" on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeals erred on double jeopardy grounds in reversing the trial court’s decision to grant Appellants’ motions to dismiss an indictment that charged them with ethnic intimidation. Appellants filed their motions to dismiss the indictments brought against them in the Scioto County Court of Common Pleas because they had already been convicted in municipal court for aggravated menacing, which is the predicate offense for the charges of ethnic intimidation that were brought against them in the dismissed indictment. The Supreme Court agreed with the decision of the trial court, holding that, for double-jeopardy purposes, Appellants’ aggravated-menacing convictions were the same offenses as those charged in the dismissed indictment. View "State v. Mutter" on Justia Law

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In State v. Aalim, __ N.E.3d __ (Aalim I), the Supreme Court declared that the Ohio Constitution requires that a juvenile who is subject to mandatory bindover receive an amenability hearing. Implicit in this holding was the conclusion that a juvenile-division judge has discretion in deciding whether to transfer to adult court a juvenile in a case where the juvenile is sixteen or seventeen years old and there is probable cause to believe that the juvenile committed an offense outlined in Ohio Rev. Code 2152.10(A)(2)(b). The Supreme Court then granted the State’s motion for reconsideration, holding that the decision in Aalim I usurped the General Assembly’s exclusive constitutional authority to define the jurisdiction of the courts of common pleas by impermissibly allowing a juvenile division judge discretion to veto the legislature’s grant of jurisdiction to the general division of a court of common pleas over a limited class of juvenile offenders. The court further held that the mandatory bindover of certain juvenile to adult court under Ohio Rev. Code 2152.10(A)(2)(b) and 2152.12(A)(1)(b) does not violate the due course of law clause or the equal protection clause of the Ohio Constitution or the analogous provisions of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. View "State v. Aalim" on Justia Law

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At issue was whether the court of appeals erred in affirming the judgment of the county court of common pleas suppressing evidence seized during the warrantless search of an unattended book bag conducted by a school employee and the school principal. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the school’s protocol requiring searches of unattended book bags to determine ownership and to ensure the safety of its contents furthers a compelling governmental interest in protecting public school students from physical harm; and (2) the school employees’ search of the unattended book bag belonging to Defendant was limited to fulfilling the purposes of the school’s search protocol and was reasonable under the Fourth Amendment. View "State v. Polk" on Justia Law

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Relator filed an original action in mandamus against the Cuyahoga County sheriff seeking to compel, pursuant to Ohio’s Public Records Act, the production of all offense or incident reports in the possession, custody or control of the sheriff’s office in which Edward Fitzgerald was identified as reported, complainant, or victim. Respondent, the public records manager for the sheriff, denied the request on the grounds that the records were security records pursuant to Ohio Rev. Code 149.433(A)(1). The Supreme Court sua sponte ordered Respondents to submit the documents sought by Relator so the Court could review them in camera to determine which reports satisfied the definition of a “security record.” The Supreme Court granted the writ in part and denied it in part, concluding that certain records were not security records and were subject to release with the redaction of exempt information. View "State ex rel. Miller v. Pinkney" on Justia Law

Posted in: Constitutional Law