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On June 9, 2016, the Ohio Supreme Court issued its decision in In re A.G., Slip Opinion No. 2016-Ohio-3306. The case was on appeal from an Eighth District Court of Appeals decision holding that the juvenile court did not err by refusing to merge acts that would have merged in adult criminal court because criminal statutes do not apply to juvenile proceedings. The Supreme Court of Ohio reversed, holding that juveniles are entitled to the same constitutional double-jeopardy protections as adults under Article I, Section 10 of the Ohio Constitution. Additionally, the same double-jeopardy analysis conducted in adult proceedings must be applied to juvenile proceedings.

Image of broken chain links Ohio House Joint Resolution No. 8 was introduced on May 25, 2016. The resolution proposes to amend Article 1, Section 6 of the Ohio Constitution, to prohibit slavery or involuntary servitude from being used as a punishment for committing a crime. Currently, Section 6 of Article 1 states “There shall be no slavery in this state; nor involuntary servitude, unless for the punishment of crime.” The resolution proposes to remove the phrase “unless for the punishment of crime.” The resolution was introduced by Representatives Reece and Sykes, and if approved by three-fifths of the members of both the House and Senate, it will then be placed on the general election ballot in November for vote by Ohio citizens.

In Toledo City School Dist. Bd. of Edn. v. State Bd. of Edn., the Ohio Supreme Court ruled that Article II, Section 28 of the Ohio Constitution, providing protection against retroactive laws, only applies to individuals and private corporations, not to local governments. The case arose out of funding reductions made by the Ohio Department of Education in 2005-2007 for the districts of Toledo, Dayton, and Cleveland. The districts filed suit in 2011 to recover the funds taken by the Department.

The Department argued that it was immune from liability under a 2009 state budget bill that specifically immunized the Department from claims made by school districts for the 2005-2007 funding reductions. The districts argued that the 2009 immunity provision was unconstitutionally retroactive.

The Court examined Ohio precedent that withheld protection from political subdivisions, and precedent from other states where similar laws were found to apply only to private individuals and corporations. The Court also stated that government bodies must be subject to alteration if change is deemed necessary. The majority opinion, issued on May 4, 2016 and written by Justice Kennedy, allows the state legislature to retroactively adjust local school funding.

In an opinion issued April 28, 2016, the Ohio Supreme Court ruled that R.C. 2933.81(B) violates the due process rights of juveniles. The law presumes that a juvenile suspect’s statements made while in police custody are voluntary, if they are electronically recorded. In State v. Barker, the Supreme Court ruled in a 5-2 decision that this presumption is unconstitutional, and that the state bears the burden of establishing that a juvenile suspect’s electronically recorded statements were voluntary.

 

The Ohio Supreme Court is hearing oral arguments on April 19th and 20th, 2016. The session is being held at Meigs County High School as part of the Court’s program to hold arguments off-site twice per year. The Off-Site Court Program enables students and community members to watch the Court in action, and helps to educate the public about the justice system.

The Court is hearing arguments in six cases, two of which raise constitutional due process issues. First, State v. Jackson, Case no. 2012-1644, is an appeal from a death sentence. The issues raised include whether the defendant’s rights under Ohio Constitution, Article I, Sections 2, 9, 10, and 16 were violated when the trial court refused to appoint counsel for the defendant’s resentencing hearing, and when the trial judge enlisted the prosecutor’s assistance in drafting the sentencing opinion.

Second, in State v. Aalim, Case no. 2015-0677, the issues raised include whether the mandatory transfer of juvenile offenders to adult court pursuant to R.C. 2152.10 (A)(2)(b) and 2152.12(A)(1)(b) violates due process rights and equal protection under the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution, and Ohio Constitution, Article I, Sections 2 and 16.

Oral Argument Previews for all six cases can be found here, and recordings of the session can be found on the Ohio Channel.

The Ohio Supreme Court adopted amendments to the Rules for the Government of the Bar of Ohio on February 23rd that will increase attorney fees. Attorneys from out of state who wish to appear in Ohio courts must pay pro hac vice registration fees. These fees will increase from $150, to $300.  The newly adopted amendments also include a voluntary $50 add-on fee to the existing $350 biennial active attorney registration fee. The fee increases were recommended by the Supreme Court’s Task Force on Access to Justice, and will become effective July 1, 2016. The money collected from the increased fees will be used to help fund legal aid services for low-income Ohioans.

Text of the amendments: Rule VI and XII amendments

The Ohio Supreme Court ruled that Frederick Kinsey, one of the parties in State ex rel. Walgate v. Kasich, has standing to challenge the constitutionality of a 2009 voter-approved amendment to the Ohio Constitution that permits limited casino and “racino” gambling operations. In order to have standing, the Court requires a plaintiff to show that he suffered an injury caused by the defendant’s actions, remedied by the requested relief. (See, ProgressOhio.org, Inc. v. JobsOhio). Kinsey claims that the state’s constitutional amendment and gambling laws violate the Equal Protection Clause by essentially allowing a monopoly on the operation of casinos. Thus, the injury on which Kinsey’s standing claim is based, is that the amendment and gambling laws create barriers that prevent him from even applying for a casino operator license. The lead opinion by Justice French, issued March 24, 2016, rejected all other claims by the other parties in the collectively-filed suit. In a concurring opinion, Justice Pfeifer wrote that he would have granted more parties standing, whereas Justice Lanzinger’s dissent argues for rejecting all claims including Kinsey’s.

The slip opinion is located here: 2016-Ohio-1176

A detailed summary from Court News Ohio is located here: Citizen has Standing to Challenge Constitutionality of Ohio Casino Gambling

supreme-court-statueThe Ohio Supreme Court ruled in State v. Broom that it is not “cruel and unusual punishment” or double jeopardy to make a second attempt at executing the same person after the first attempt failed. The 4-3 decision was issued last Wednesday, with the majority opinion finding that since the medical team had failed to locate a suitable vein for administering the lethal injection drug, the execution never actually began. To learn more about the case, Court News Ohio has prepared a summary, and the slip opinion can be found here on the Supreme Court’s website.

Proposed Amendment

ohiostatehouse Senator Sandra Williams has recently introduced a Senate Joint Resolution proposing an amendment to the Ohio Constitution. Senate Joint Resolution 6 would “amend Section 10 of Article I of the Constitution of the State of Ohio to allow the prosecutor in a felony case to elect to prosecute upon a finding of probable cause by a court following a hearing rather than upon indictment by a grand jury.” For the full text of the resolution, click here.

If you are interested in learning more about this resolution, or in conducting other legislative history research, check out C|M|LAW Library’s Legislative History Research Guide.

The Ohio Supreme Court ruled yesterday in Lycan v. Cleveland that, under Article IV of the Ohio Constitution, an appellate court or the Supreme Court does not have jurisdiction if there was no final order issued by a trial court. The case was remanded to the trial court for further proceedings. Read more at cleveland.com.

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