Articles Posted in Constitutional 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

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After a jury trial, Defendant was found guilty of three counts of aggravated robbery, three counts of rape, and other offenses. Defendant was fifteen years old at the time he committed the crimes. The trial court sentenced Defendant to the maximum prison term for each count. The sentence totaled 141 years in prison. At issue before the Supreme Court in this appeal was whether, pursuant to Graham v. Florida, a term-of-years prison sentence that exceeds a defendant’s life expectancy violates the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition against cruel and unusual punishments when it is imposed on a juvenile nonhomicide offender. The Supreme Court answered this question in the affirmative and remanded the cause to the trial court for resentencing, holding (1) Graham’s categorical prohibition of sentences of life imprisonment without the possibility of parole for juveniles who commit nonhomicide crimes applies to juvenile nonhomicide offenders who are sentenced to term-of-years sentences that exceed their life expectancies; and (2) therefore, Defendant’s 112-year sentence violates the Eighth Amendment. View "State v. Moore" on Justia Law

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A complaint was filed in the juvenile court alleging that Appellant engaged in conduct that would be considered aggravated robbery if committed by an adult. Appellant was sixteen years old at the time of the alleged offense. The State filed a motion to transfer Appellant to the general division of the common pleas court to be tried as an adult pursuant to Ohio Rev. Code 2152.10(A)(2)(b) and 2152.12(A)(1)(b), which provide for mandatory transfer of juveniles to adult court in certain circumstances. After a hearing, the juvenile court automatically transferred the case. Appellant moved to dismiss the ensuring indictment charging him with two counts of aggravated robbery with accompanying firearm specifications and transfer his case back to juvenile court, arguing that mandatory transfer of juveniles is unconstitutional. The trial court overruled the motion. Appellant subsequently entered pleas of no contest to the two counts of aggravated robbery. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that mandatory transfer of juveniles to adult court without providing for the protection of a discretionary determination by the juvenile court judge violates juveniles’ right to due process. View "State v. Aalim" on Justia Law

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After a jury trial, Appellant was found guilty of two counts of murder. The trial court sentenced Appellant to death. The Supreme Court affirmed. Appellant later filed an amended application for postconviction DNA testing pursuant to Ohio Rev. Code 2953.71 through 2953.84. The county common pleas court denied the application. Appellant appealed, arguing that section 2953.73(E)(1) violates the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments because it discriminates between capital and non-capital criminal defendants, fails to provide appellate review, and results in the arbitrary and capricious application of the death penalty. The Supreme Court held (1) section 2953.73(E)(1) violates the constitutional right to equal protection, but the unconstitutional portion of the statute can be excised to create a constitutionally sound procedure that provides capital offenders an appeal of right to the Supreme Court; and (2) this constitutional analysis applies equally to section 2953.72(A)(8), which summarizes the procedure for appealing a denial of postconviction DNA testing. Therefore, the Court applied the severance remedy to the unconstitutional portions of the statutes. Consequently, Appellant will be permitted an appeal of right to the Supreme Court from the denial of his amended application for postconviction DNA testing. View "State v. Noling" on Justia Law