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Category Archive for 'Cases to Watch'

Ohio Constitution Network has been updated, and the Court Decisions from 2021 now includes 15 decisions of the Ohio Supreme Court in which the court addressed directly or indirectly issues concerning the Ohio Constitution.  See the Court Decisions menu on the Ohio Constitutional Law and History website.

The Ohio Supreme Court is hearing oral arguments in two cases Tuesday, July 12, 2016, and two cases Wednesday, July 13, 2016. Live streaming video is available at this link.

On July 12, in the death penalty appeal, State v. Spaulding, Case no. 2013-0536, the defendant raises a number of issues dealing with due process rights under both the United States Constitution and the Ohio Constitution. The issues include whether the defendant’s rights were violated when his two court appointed capital-certified counsel did not attend each proceeding in the case together.

On July 13, in another death penalty appeal, State v. Cepec, Case no. 2013-0915, the defendant argues that his constitutional rights were violated when he was denied the right to an attorney during an interrogation.

Summaries of the remaining issues in each case can be found at Court News Ohio’s Oral Argument Previews page.

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.

Beck Energy filed a mandamus action in the Ohio Supreme Court, seeking to vacate a stop work order issued by Munroe Falls to halt work on the Sunoco well.   Beck Energy seeks a declaration that:

“The Home Rule Amendment to the Ohio Constitution, Article XVIII,Section 3, does not allow Munroe Falls to enact a zoning ordinance that discriminates against, unfairly impedes, and obstructs oil and gas activities and production operations that the state of Ohio expressly permits and regulates under R.C. Chapter 1509.”

According to the complaint, the zoning ordinances prohibit drilling in 99.06% of the city’s territory.

The Ohio Supreme Court previously held that City of Munroe Falls’ ordinances requiring drillers to get a conditional zoning certificate, pay a deposit for a performance bond, hold a public hearing and a wait a year before drilling were preempted by State law regulating drilling.  State of Ohio ex rel.  Beck Energy, Supreme Court of Ohio case no. 2015-1019.  However, this was a plurality opinion.   The concurrence expressed that whether a zoning ordinance is necessarily in conflict with State oil and gas laws is an open question.  By filing this lawsuit, Beck Energy appears to be seeking a clear answer as to whether municipalities can use zoning ordinances to prohibit drilling.

Read the complaint

Athens News: Will Ohio communities be allowed to zone out fracking?

See our prior post: State Oil and Gas Law Preempts Munroe Falls Drilling Ordinances in Split Ohio Supreme Court Opinion

The Ohio Supreme Court heard oral arguments today to determine whether inclusion of a prison privatization measure in state budget legislation violates the Ohio Constitution’s one subject rule.  The case is  State ex rel. Ohio Civil Service Employees Association  v. State , Ohio Supreme Court case no. 2014-0319.   (Docket, Oral Argument Preview).  Also at issue is whether the Court of Appeals could order the trial court to conduct an evidentiary hearing to review each of the budget bill’s provisions to determine whether the bill violates the one-subject rule and to sever any parts.  Defendant-Appellant State of Ohio asserts that this order by the Court of Appeals results in  “judicial line item vetoes”, in violation of the Ohio Constitution.

The plaintiffs-appellees in this case are the Ohio Civil Service Employees Association, liberal group ProgressOhio and individuals.  They filed a cross-appeal contending that the prison privitization provisions in the budget bill violate Ohio Constitution, Article VIII, Section 4, which prohibits joint ventures between the State and any company.

See our prior post Ohio Supreme Court to Hear One Subject Rule Case re. Prison Privatization

Also see Charlotte Observer, Fight over sale of state prison heard at Ohio Supreme Court

The Lucas County Common Pleas Court held yesterday that State legislation requiring police officers to be present, and imposing other restrictions on the operation of traffic cameras,  SB 342, violates the home rule provision of the Ohio Constitution.  See Toledo v. State, Lucas C.P. Case No. CI-201501828.  The City of Toledo was granted an injunction.  The City can continue with its traffic camera program without the limitations imposed by SB 342. See Toledo Blade, Lucas County judge sides with Toledo on traffic cameras

See our prior post Toledo Granted Preliminary Injunction to Halt State Traffic Camera Restrictions

Also see State Traffic Camera Restrictions Violate Home Rule, says Montgomery County Common Pleas Court

Ohioans for Concealed Carry sued the City of Cleveland in order to strike down the City’s new gun ordinance because it is preempted by state law.  See Ohioans for Concealed Carry, Inc. v. City of Cleveland, Cuyahoga County Docket Number CV-15-844547.  ORC 9.68 states:

…the general assembly finds the need to provide uniform laws throughout the state regulating the ownership, possession, purchase, other acquisition, transport, storage, carrying, sale, or other transfer of firearms, their components, and their ammunition.  Except as specifically provided by the United States Constitution, Ohio Constitution, state law, or federal law, a person, without further license, permission, restriction, delay, or process, may own, possess, purchase, sell, transfer, transport, store, or keep any firearm, part of a firearm, its components, and its ammunition.

According to the complaint:

The sections of the Ordinance that violate R.C. §9.68 by requiring or imposing upon the people requirements of license, permission, restriction, delay or process not found in State or Federal law (the “Conflicting Sections”) include, but are not limited to: 627.12 – authorizing warrantless seizure of firearms without due process; 627 .13 – prohibiting sale or transfer of firearms without reporting the sale or transfer to the City; 627.16 – prohibiting the negligent transfer of a firearm to a prohibited person; 627.18 – requiring City residents to repo1i the loss or theft of any firearm; and Chapter 628 – creating a “gun offender registry”. In addition, Ordinance No. 931-14 includes many provisions which may, more or less, restate State or Federal law, but still touch upon matters reserved exclusively to State or Federal law by R.C. §9.68 because they deal with the right of the people to own, possess, purchase, sell, transfer, transport, store, or keep firearms, parts of firearms components and ammunition (the “Prohibited Subject Sections”). The City is precluded by R.C. §9.68 from enacting both the Conflicting Sections and the Prohibited Subject Sections.

See cleveland. com, Gun rights advocacy group sues city of Cleveland over new gun ordinance.

The City will likely assert that the ordinance falls under their home rule powers.

Traditionally, we have used a three-part test to evaluate conflicts under the Home Rule Amendment.   A state statute takes precedence over a local ordinance when “(1) the ordinance is an exercise of the police power, rather than of local self-government, (2) the statute is a general law, and (3) the ordinance is in conflict with the statute.” Mendenhall v. Akron, 117 Ohio St.3d 33, 2008-Ohio-270, 881 N.E.2d 255, ¶ 17.

Cleveland v. State, 128 Ohio St.3d 135, 2010-Ohio-6318  , 942 N.E.2d 370.

Cleveland v. State held that ORC 9.68 is a general law and is an exercise of police power.  Also see  Ohioans For Concealed Carry, Inc., v. City of Clyde, 120 Ohio St.3d 96, 2008-Ohio-4605,  896 N.E.2d 967.  In Cleveland v. State, the city did not argue that its ordinances did not conflict with ORC 9.68.  In the recently filed lawsuit, the City will likely argue that the recent ordinance does not conflict with ORC 9.68.  As stated in Justice Pfeiffer’s dissent in Cleveland v. State, “…in order for * * * a conflict to arise, the state statute must positively permit what the ordinance prohibits, or vice versa, regardless of the extent of state regulation concerning the same object.” (Quoting Cincinnati v. Hoffman (1972), 31 Ohio St.2d 163, 169, 60 O.O.2d 117, 285 N.E.2d 714).


According to the Montgomery County Common Pleas Court, the Ohio law requiring a police officer to be present during operation of traffic cameras, SB 342 , violates the Home Rule provision of the Ohio Constitution.  The Court granted a permanent injunction in favor of the City of Dayton to stop the state law from going into effect.  See City of Dayton v. State, Montgomery Case No. 2015-CV-1457, Decision, Order and Entry Sustaining in Part the Motion for Summary Judgment of Plaintiff City of Dayton, Ohio and Overruling Defendant State of Ohio’s Motion for Summary Judgment,  (Apr. 2, 2015).

Other cities have also filed suit claiming SB 342 is unconstitutional.  See Toledo Granted Preliminary Injunction to Halt State Traffic Camera Restrictions.  The Montgomery County Court of Common Pleas is the first court to grant a permanent injunction to halt the state law.


State legislation requiring police officers to be present, and imposing other restrictions on the operation of traffic cameras,  SB 342 , will not go into effect in Toledo today.  See Toledo Blade City gets stay of red-light camera law.  A Lucas County judge granted Toledo a preliminary injunction halting the parts of state legislation from going into effect.  The Court found there is a  substantial likelihood the City will prevail on its claim that  SB 342 violates the City’s home rule rights under the Ohio Constitution.   See Toledo v. State, Lucas C.P. Case No. CI-201501828, Opinion and Journal Entry, Mar.  22, 2015:

Section 45ll.093(B)(l) mandates the presence of a law enforcement officer at the location of all photo monitoring devices used to detect traffic law violations. Section 451l .095(A)(l) mandates a three-year safety study before the deploying of any traffic law photo-monitoring devices.  Section 4511.0912 prohibits the issuance of a speeding ticket based on photo-monitoring devices unless the vehicle in question exceeds the posted speed limit by not less than six miles per hour in a school zone, park or recreation area, and for any other location the vehicle must exceed the posted speed limit by at least ten miles per hour.

The Court finds that the above-referenced Sections violate the City of Toledo’s authority under the Home Rule Amendment to the Ohio Constitution. Therefore, the Court grants Plaintiffs petition for a preliminary injunction enjoining the Defendants from enforcing Ohio Revised Code Sections 451l.093(B)(l), 451l .095( A)(l), and 4511.0912 as specified in S.B. 342.

Similar litigation was filed by the City of Akron, See Akron v. State, Summit County C.P. No.  CV-2015-02-0955.  Plaintiffs and Defendants have both filed motions for summary judgment in that case.

The City of Toledo sued the State of Ohio, seeking a temporary and permanent injunction to prevent Ohio’s new traffic camera legislation,  SB 342 ,from going into effect. (See Toledo Blade,  Toledo sues over traffic camera ban).  SB 342 requires that a police officer be present when a traffic camera is in operation, making traffic cameras economically infeasible for most cities.   The City of Akron also sued to stop the new state statute from going into effect on March 23, 2015.  See our prior post, Akron Files Lawsuit Challenging State Law Restrictions on Traffic Cameras.

In their complaint, the City asserts that SB 342 is an unconstitutional violation of the Home Rule powers granted to cities by the Ohio Constitution.  Plaintiff states that the statute does not require the police officer present at the intersection to be observing the traffic or the camera, or to even be awake.  Thus, according to the complaint, the State has no legitimate health, safety or welfare reason to require an officer’s mere presence, and all it does is impose a financial burden on cities.  The legislation is not a general law of  the state, but was imposed solely to restrict the police powers of cities, plaintiff asserts.

Attached to the complaint is Legislative Service Commission Analysis stating that HB 69 likely violates home rule.  HB 69 did not pass.  That bill would have banned traffic cameras except in limited circumstances, such as school zones. The  Legislative Service Commission Analysis of SB 342 states:

“It is unclear if the provisions of the bill infringe upon a municipal corporation’s home rule authority under Article XVIII, Section 3 of the Ohio Constitution. See Canton v. State, 95 Ohio St.3d 149 (2002).”

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