Articles Posted in Criminal Law

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Pountney was indicted for theft, identity fraud, and two counts of drug possession—one involving fentanyl and one involving acetaminophen with codeine. Pountney stipulated to the charges of theft, identity fraud, and possession of acetaminophen with codeine. Count 4 alleged that Pountney knowingly obtained, possessed or used at least five but not more than 50 times the "bulk amount" of fentanyl, R.C. 2925.11(A), a second-degree felony under R.C. 2925.11(C)(1)(c). The “bulk amount” of a Schedule II opiate or opium derivative, like fentanyl, is an amount equal to or exceeding 20 grams or five times the maximum daily dose in the usual dose range specified in a standard pharmaceutical reference manual. Pountney stipulated that he knowingly obtained 10 three-day transdermal fentanyl patches; each delivered 50 micrograms of fentanyl per hour. If the state proved that 10 patches equaled or exceeded five times the bulk amount of transdermal fentanyl, Pountney would be guilty of a second-degree felony; otherwise, he would be guilty of a fifth-degree felony. The court found Pountney guilty on all counts, including second-degree-felony aggravated possession of fentanyl. The Eighth District reversed with instructions to enter a finding of guilty on Count 4 as a fifth-degree felony. The Supreme Court of Ohio affirmed. Although there is no usual dose range of fentanyl, the state may not rely upon the usual dose range of morphine, the prototype opiate, to establish the bulk amount of fentanyl under R.C. 2925.01(D)(1)(d). View "State v. Pountney" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the court of appeals, which concluded that Defendant forfeited her right to challenge the trial court’s policy of refusing to accept no-contest pleas. The court of appeals ruled that the trial court erred in adopting a blanket policy of refusing to accept no-contest pleas but found that Defendant did not preserve the error for appeal. The Supreme Court agreed that the trial court erred by adhering to such an arbitrary policy but held that Defendant preserved the error for appeal. The court remanded the matter to the trial court to allow Defendant to enter a new plea in accordance with Ohio R. Crim. P. 11. View "State v. Beasley" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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A juvenile who is bound over to adult court must wait to appeal until the end of the adult-court proceedings. D.H. was a juvenile at the time he was charged with robbery. The juvenile court determined that D.H. was not amenable to rehabilitation in the juvenile system and transferred jurisdiction to the adult court. D.H. then pled no contest to the charges in adult court. The court of appeals concluded that because the juvenile court had not articulated the reasons that D.H. was not amenable to rehabilitation in the juvenile system, the court erred in transferring D.H. On remand, the juvenile court once again found that D.H. was not amenable to rehabilitation. D.H. immediately appealed the juvenile court’s transfer orders rather than wait until the end of the adult-court proceedings. The court of appeals dismissed the appeal for lack of a final order. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding the the juvenile court’s orders transferring jurisdiction to the adult court are not final orders under Ohio Rev. Code 2505.02(B)(4). View "In re D.H." on Justia Law

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In 2004, McCain was charged with felony murder, aggravated robbery, and falsification. Judge Froelich, of the Montgomery County Court, entered a not-guilty plea on McCain’s behalf after McCain “stood mute.” McCain’s later claimed that he attempted to plead guilty at his arraignment. Later, before Judge Huffman, McCain pleaded guilty to felony-murder and aggravated-robbery. Judge Huffman erroneously informed McCain that he would be subject to postrelease control on the felony-murder charge. Felony murder is an unclassified felony to which the postrelease-control statute does not apply. The sentence erroneously included postrelease control on both convictions. Judge Huffman later issued a nunc pro tunc entry correcting the error. McCain requested records relating to his arraignment, including video and transcripts. Judge Huffman denied his request. In 2016, McCain sought a writ of mandamus in the Second District, claiming that his attempt to enter a guilty plea at his arraignment divested Judge Huffman of jurisdiction; demanding a full copy of the arraignment transcripts, Referee Report and Video; and claiming constitutional deprivations and ineffective assistance of counsel. He sought to invalidate his plea agreement. The Supreme Court of Ohio affirmed dismissal. Habeas corpus, not mandamus, is the appropriate action when an inmate seeks release. The court rejected McCain’s argument that his alleged attempt to enter a guilty plea divested Judge Huffman of jurisdiction; a trial court’s jurisdiction does not end until a final judgment has been entered. Judge Huffman properly corrected the sentencing error. View "McCain v. Huffman" on Justia Law

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In 2004, McKinney was convicted of five counts arising from a single event: robbery, aggravated theft, receiving stolen property, and two counts of failing to comply with a police officer’s order. He was sentenced to consecutive prison terms totaling 20.5 years. The Third District rejected arguments that the robbery and theft counts and the two failing-to-comply counts were allied offenses of similar import but reversed his conviction for receiving stolen property and remanded for resentencing. He was resentenced to consecutive prison terms totaling 18.5 years. Ten years later, McKinney moved to “Correct Void Allied Convictions/Sentences” and for a resentencing hearing, then filed a mandamus petition, seeking to compel the trial judge to merge the convictions that he claimed were for allied offenses and arguing that until the judge does so, there is no final, appealable order. The Supreme Court of Ohio affirmed the Third District’s dismissal of the petition. McKinney has unsuccessfully litigated whether he was improperly convicted of duplicative charges, so his effort to collaterally attack his convictions as allied offenses is barred by res judicata. When “a plain and adequate remedy at law has been unsuccessfully invoked, a writ of mandamus will not lie to relitigate the same issue.” View "McKinney v. Schmenk" on Justia Law

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Inmates, sentenced to indeterminate prison terms for crimes committed before 1996 sentencing reforms, alleged that the parole board has an unwritten policy of denying parole to old-law offenders, noting statements by board members that all inmates likely to be paroled following the reforms have been released. The complaint alleged that the board wastes $119 million annually by failing to give inmates meaningful parole consideration. The Supreme Court of Ohio affirmed the Tenth District's dismissal of their mandamus petition. Prior denials do not equate to failure to give meaningful consideration. The Adult Parole Authority has “wide-ranging discretion in parole matters,” subject to an inherent expectation “that a criminal offender will receive meaningful consideration for parole.” The inmates did not establish that officials have already predetermined that the seriousness of their offenses outweighs all other factors. They committed aggravated murder in the course of a robbery, first-degree murder, complicity to commit aggravated murder, attempted aggravated murder, and crimes involving a minor. The board has not held them to account for offenses more serious than they actually committed nor based its decision on factually inaccurate information. Weighing the seriousness of the crimes, as compared to whatever evidence of rehabilitation the inmates presented is the point at which the parole board exercises its discretion. The court also rejected requests for a declaration that the parole board members were guilty of public corruption and for sanctions for alleged “public corruption” and “dereliction of duty.” View "Bailey v. Parole Board" on Justia Law

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In 1981, McDermott was sentenced to life in prison. The Adult Parole Authority (APA) has repeatedly denied McDermott parole, most recently in 2015, finding substantial reason to believe that his release would create undue risk to public safety, or would not further the interest of justice. "The offender brutally stabbed the female victim to death while her minor children were in the house. He has completed programming, but lacks insight…. has gone some time without an infraction and [has] a supportive family." McDermott alleged that the APA had considered its erroneous belief that he had a history of stalking the victim and had violated a protection order. The Supreme Court of Ohio affirmed the Tenth District's denial of relief. To obtain mandamus relief, McDermott must establish, by clear and convincing evidence, a clear legal right to relief, that APA has a clear legal duty to provide it, and the lack of an adequate remedy in the course of law. The APA’s obligation to “investigate and correct any significant errors” arises when it is presented with “credible allegations, supported by evidence, that the materials relied on at a parole hearing were substantively inaccurate.” The evidence did not demonstrate that his APA record contained inaccurate information or that the APA relied on inaccurate information. McDermott sought no relief relating to alleged inaccuracies in the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction’s report regarding inmates over the age of 65 who were parole-eligible. View "McDermott v. Adult Parole Authority" on Justia Law

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Martin was convicted in Cleveland Heights Municipal Court of receiving stolen property and other charges. The Eighth District Court of Appeals dismissed his appeal for lack of a final order. Martin sought a writ of mandamus to compel Judge Buchanan to issue a final, appealable order. The Eighth District denied the petition because Judge Buchanan had set the matter for a hearing to address the finality of the judgment, so Martin had an adequate remedy at law. Martin’s petition also sought a writ of prohibition against the clerk of courts, alleging that a third party had posted his bail in an unrelated case and that the clerk had fraudulently applied those sums to the fines and costs assessed in this case. The Eighth District also denied that writ, finding that the depositor had consented to that disposition of funds. While his appeal was pending, Judge Buchanan issued a judgment entry. The Supreme Court of Ohio held that Martin’s mandamus petition was moot. Three elements are necessary for a writ of prohibition: the exercise of judicial power, lack of authority to exercise that power, and lack of an adequate remedy in the ordinary course of law. The clerk’s action did not constitute the exercise of judicial or quasi-judicial authority. View "Martin v. Buchanan" on Justia Law

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Swain sought a writ of mandamus in the Tenth District Court of Appeals to compel the Ohio Adult Parole Authority to expunge its records of allegedly inaccurate information and to provide him with a “meaningful opportunity for parole based upon accurate factual findings.” The Tenth District dismissed for failure to attach to his affidavit of indigency a certified statement from the institutional cashier. The Supreme Court of Ohio affirmed. When an inmate files a civil action or appeal against a government entity or employee in a court of common pleas, court of appeals, county court, or municipal court, he must comply with R.C. 2969.25's procedural requirements, including, for a waiver of the filing fee, submission of an affidavit of indigency and a statement showing the balance in his inmate account for each of the preceding six months, certified by the institutional cashier. Noncompliance warrants dismissal. In the Tenth District, Swain also moved to proceed in forma pauperis, attaching the required affidavit and stating that a statement of his prison account was attached; no statement was filed. He subsequently filed another affidavit with a statement of the running balance in his prison account. Swain’s belated attempt to comply with R.C. 2969.25(C) “does not excuse his noncompliance” and the statement was not certified by the institutional cashier. View "Swain v. Adult Parole Authority" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the court of appeals denying a writ of mandamus to compel Judge David L. Johnson to vacate Appellant’s aggravated murder conviction and issue a final appealable order disposing of one count of having a weapon while under disability that was charged in the same criminal case. At the time of this appeal, Appellant had been imprisoned for more than fifteen years, his conviction and sentence had been upheld on direct appeal, and his collateral attack on the finality of his conviction had been rejected by the court of appeals. The Supreme Court held that Appellant’s appeal from the denial of his motion to vacate his judgment of conviction was an adequate remedy in the ordinary course of law, and accordingly, Appellant’s complaint was barred by the doctrine of res judicata. View "State ex rel. Peoples v. Johnson" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law