Court News Ohio
Court News Ohio
Court News Ohio

Supreme Court Announces Decisions in 17 Cases

Four of 17 decisions released in second December 6 announcement address Adam Walsh Act.

Four of 17 decisions released in second December 6 announcement address Adam Walsh Act.

Four of 17 decisions released in second December 6 announcement address Adam Walsh Act.

Four of 17 decisions released in second December 6 announcement address Adam Walsh Act.

The Ohio Supreme Court this afternoon announced decisions in 17 cases, including four cases that clarify the application of Ohio’s sex offender registration statutes and three attorney discipline cases.

As part of a year-end transition process in which the Supreme Court is releasing a large number of decisions this week, the court announced its rulings in the following cases: (to view the court’s full opinion in a case, click on the hyperlink and scroll down to the last item on the docket).

Adam Walsh Act Classification Scheme for Sex Offenders May Not Be Applied to Offenders Whose Sex Crimes Were Committed Before Jan. 1, 2008
In In re Bruce S. the court ruled that sex offender classification, registration, and community-notification provisions of the Adam Walsh Act (AWA) may not be constitutionally applied to a sex offender who committed his sex offense between the July 1, 2007, repeal of Megan’s Law and the January 1, 2008, effective date of the AWA provisions. Applying that holding to a Hamilton County case, the court affirmed a decision in which the First District Court of Appeals vacated the classification of a defendant whose sex crime was committed in September 2007 as a Tier III offender under the AWA, and ordered the trial court to reclassify him under the provisions of Megan’s Law that were in effect immediately prior to its repeal.

Video clip View oral argument video of this case.

Address Change Violation by Sex Offender Classified Under Megan’s Law Subject to Megan’s Law Penalty Provisions
In State v. Howard the court held that when a sex offender who was originally classified under Megan’s Law is convicted of failing to comply with statutory address change notification requirements, the offender must be sentenced according to the penalty provisions of Megan’s Law, despite the fact that his address change violation did not occur until after January 1, 2008, the effective date of the Adam Walsh Act.

Video clip View oral argument video of this case.

Indictment for Violating Adam Walsh Act Address Change Requirement Also Charged Violation of Megan’s Law
In State v. Brunning the court addressed cases in which sex offenders whose original classification was made under Megan’s Law were indicted between January 1, 2008, and June 3, 2010, for failing to comply with the address change notification requirements of the Adam Walsh Act (AWA). The court held that because the address change notification requirements in Megan’s Law and the AWA are identical, an indictment for violating the AWA address change requirement also validly charged a violation of the Megan’s Law requirement.

Video clip View oral argument video of this case.

Judge Barred from Imposing Juvenile Sex Offender Classification After Defendant Turned 21
In State ex rel. Jean-Baptiste v. Kirsch the court granted a writ of prohibition to prevent a Scioto County juvenile court judge from classifying the defendant in a delinquency case as a juvenile sex offender registrant after the defendant had turned 21 years old.

Appellate Review of Trial Court’s Merger of Criminal Charges Should Apply ‘De Novo’ Standard of Review
The court ruled in State v. Williams that a court of appeals should apply a non-deferential “de novo” standard of review when reviewing a trial court’s decision to merge or not to merge multiple criminal charges for sentencing purposes under the state’s multi-count statute.

Video clip View oral argument video of this case.

Violation of Department Policy Does Not Necessarily Remove City’s Immunity from Civil Liability in Injury Lawsuit
In a case involving the deaths of two motorists hit and killed by a Massillon city fire truck, the court ruled in Anderson v. Massillon that the standards of “willful,” “wanton,” and “reckless” are “different and distinct degrees of care and are not interchangeable” and clarified the legal definitions of these terms.  Based on that holding, the court upheld in part a ruling of the Fifth District Court of Appeals that reversed the trial court’s award of summary judgment in favor of the city. Today’s decision remands the case back to the trial court to reconsider the city’s liability in the case.

Video clip View oral argument video of this case.

Penalty for Violation of Air Pollution Permit Is Assessed From Initial Date of Noncompliance Until Facility Demonstrates It Is In Compliance.
In State ex rel. Ohio Attorney General v. Shelly Holding Co. the court affirmed a ruling by the Tenth District Court of Appeals that the proper method of calculating the civil penalty to be levied against an industrial facility for noncompliance with the terms of its air-pollution-control permit is to assess the penalty stated in the permit from the initial date of noncompliance until the facility demonstrates that it no longer violates the permit.

Video clip View oral argument video of this case.

Decision Changing Last Name of Child of Unmarried Parents From Mother’s to Father’s Surname Reversed for Lack of  Sufficient Evidence That Change In Child’s Best interest
In a case involving a dispute between unmarried parents over which of their last names their child should use, the court held in D.W. v. T.L. that a Clinton County court’s decision changing the child’s name from the mother’s surname as listed on the birth certificate to the surname of the father, over the mother’s objections, was not supported by sufficient evidence as a matter of law. Citing criteria set forth in the Ohio Supreme Court’s decisions in Bobo v. Jewell (1988) and In re Willhite (1999), the court reversed a ruling by the Twelfth District Court of Appeals and remanded the case to the trial court for entry of final judgment in favor of the mother.

Video clip View oral argument video of this case.

Appeals Court Erred In Excluding ‘Other Acts’ Evidence Where That Evidence Showed Defendant’s Plan, Pattern In Committing Later Crime
In State v. Van Williams the court held that pursuant to Evid.R. 404(B), the Ohio Evidence Rule that addresses the admissibility of “other acts” evidence in a criminal case, a court may allow the state to introduce evidence at trial about prior conduct of the defendant if that evidence is offered as proof of the defendant’s “motive, opportunity, intent, preparation, plan, knowledge, identity, or absence of mistake or accident” in committing the crime with which he is currently charged. Applying that analysis to a Cuyahoga County case involving alleged sexual abuse of a teenage male, the court ruled that the Eighth District Court of Appeals erred by excluding, as improper, testimony by a male witness who described the defendant’s cultivation of an abusive sexual relationship with the witness several years earlier, when the witness was a teenager.

Video clip View oral argument video of this case.

Physical Custody Over Property Tax Valuation Appeal Determined First, Not One Mailed the Same Day
In Oak Hills Local City School Dist. Bd. of Edn. v. Hamilton Cty. Bd. of Revision, the Supreme Court held that the Board of Tax Appeals acted reasonably and lawfully when it dismissed a school board’s appeal challenging a reduction in property valuation for land owned by Western Hills Country Club. Both the school board and country club appealed the Board of Revision’s decision; on the very same day, the school board put its appeal to the BTA in the mail and Western Hills physically filed its appeal in the common pleas court. The school board argued that it had filed first because it put its appeal in the mail before Western Hills physically filed, but the BTA held that the school board did not present probative proof of the time of mailing. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the school board’s failure to introduce the “sender’s receipt” from its certified mailing justified the BTA’s ruling.

Suspended Attorneys
The court issued an indefinite suspension from the practice of law for Chagrin Falls attorney Paul N. Peterson for stealing funds from a corporate client for whom he created a limited liability corporation to buy, refurbish, and sell homes. Peterson pled no contest to fourth-degree felony theft and had been under a Supreme Court-imposed interim felony suspension. Disciplinary Counsel v. Peterson.

Video clip View oral argument video of this case.

The court issued a one-year stayed suspension on conditions for Xenia attorney James W. Schmidt for conduct violations that occurred while he was serving as Greene County treasurer and practicing law part-time. The misconduct included having an unlawful interest in a public contract for probate guardianship, receiving improper compensation for title reports, and misusing county equipment and employee time. Disciplinary Counsel v. Schmidt.

The court issued a one-year stayed suspension on conditions for Cleveland attorney Timothy A. Shimko for making false or reckless statements about a judge. Disciplinary Counsel v. Shimko.

Video clip View oral argument video of this case.

Other Entries
Four entries decide the outcome of cases that were held on the authority of decisions in similar cases.

Please note: Opinion summaries are prepared by the Office of Public Information for the general public and news media. Opinion summaries are not prepared for every opinion, but only for noteworthy cases. Opinion summaries are not to be considered as official headnotes or syllabi of court opinions. The full text of this and other court opinions are available online.

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