Court News Ohio
Court News Ohio
Court News Ohio

Supreme Court to Hear Death Penalty Appeal Questioning Competency Determination in Trial for 2007 Toledo Murders

Among Eight Cases Scheduled for Argument on August 20-21

Image of  stainless steel gavel outside of the Thomas J. Moyer Ohio Judicial Center

The Chief Justice and Justices of the Ohio Supreme Court will hear arguments in eight cases August 20 and 21.

Image of stainless steel gavel outside of the Thomas J. Moyer Ohio Judicial Center

The Chief Justice and Justices of the Ohio Supreme Court will hear arguments in eight cases August 20 and 21.

The Ohio Supreme Court next week will hear the appeal of a man convicted and sentenced to die for a 2007 double murder.

In State v. Neyland, the first of eight cases scheduled for argument before the Ohio Supreme Court on August 20 and 21, the justices will consider the death penalty appeal of Calvin Neyland, Jr., of Toledo for the shooting deaths of two Liberty Transportation trucking company employees six years ago.

The court’s Office of Public Information today released summaries of the eight cases. The arguments will be carried live online at sc.ohio.gov and broadcast live on the Ohio Channel.

In Neyland, to be argued on Tuesday at 9 a.m., Neyland’s attorneys allege the trial court should not have found him competent to stand trial. Neyland was diagnosed in multiple evaluations primarily with a personality disorder, a less severe diagnosis than mental illness. His attorneys argue that the test for competency under Ohio law isn’t whether a mental illness renders a defendant unable to comprehend the legal proceedings and assist in his defense, but instead is whether the defendant’s mental condition makes him incapable of understanding his trial and helping his lawyers. The lower court, they assert, based its determination that Neyland was competent on the erroneous standard that a defendant must have a mental illness.

Among other errors Neyland’s attorneys claim, they say Neyland’s rights to a fair trial and due process were violated when he was ordered by the trial court to wear a leg brace restraint during trial, without doing anything wrong or demonstrating that he was a security risk. They argue the use of this extraordinary security measure hindered Neyland’s right to a fair trial and limited his ability to participate in his defense.

Cases for Tuesday, August 20
In addition to Neyland, the court will consider three other cases at Tuesday’s session:

  • HIN v. Cuyahoga County Board of Revision, the Cuyahoga County Fiscal Officer, and the Bedford Board of Education asks the court whether a property’s sale price establishes the correct value for taxes if that price includes the value of a lease. The commercial property owner contests a valuation of its property, approved by the Ohio Board of Tax Appeals, arguing a sale price is used for tax valuation only when it reflects the “fee simple” estate, or the value of the property “unencumbered by any other interest or estate” such as a lease.
  • In re: H.V. is a case appealed from the Ninth District in which a juvenile on supervised release (parole) committed another offense that would be a felony if committed by an adult. Attorneys for H.V. say Ohio’s courts of appeals have issued conflicting opinions about whether the juvenile courts or the Ohio Department of Youth Services determines how long a child remains committed beyond the minimum sentence required by Ohio law. The youth’s attorneys also argue that juvenile courts don’t have the authority to make a minor serve his sentences consecutively for a parole violation and a felony.
  • In Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association v. Fonda, a Cleveland attorney opposes the recommendation of the Board of Commissioners on Grievances & Discipline that his law license be suspended for one year for failing to act with reasonable diligence in a case, keep clients informed and comply with their requests, and promptly deliver client papers and property.

Cases for Wednesday, August 21
The court will hear four cases on Wednesday:

  • In Ohiotelnet.com v. Windstream Ohio, telecommunications company Ohiotelnet disputes more than $76,000 in charges for services it purchased to resell to customers. In its appeal of a ruling by the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio, the company argues the commission didn’t thoroughly review 18,000-plus pages of evidence it submitted and, if it had, the commission would have determined the company proved it was overcharged or incorrectly billed for the services.
  • The state asks the court in City of Cleveland v. State of Ohio to overturn an Eighth District Court of Appeals ruling that the Ohio law regulating tow-truck businesses is unconstitutional because it conflicts with the right of municipalities to self-govern under the Ohio Constitution’s Home Rule Amendment. The state argues the law doesn’t violate home rule because it meets a four-part test adopted by the Supreme Court in a 2002 case. The City of Cleveland counters that the state law prevents cities from regulating towing companies at the local level.
  • Disciplinary Counsel v. Thomas Jones, Jr., involves a Cleveland non-lawyer who prepared deeds for two Cleveland homeowners. The Board on the Unauthorized Practice of Law recommends that the Supreme Court find he engaged in the unauthorized practice of law by preparing the deeds and impose a $10,000 civil penalty. The man asks how he could have known printing and completing forms downloaded from the Internet was considered practicing law and requests a rehearing or dismissal of the charge.
  • In the Matter of the Application of Black Fork Wind Energy for a Certificate to Site a Wind-Powered Electric Generating Facility in Crawford and Richland Counties, Ohio is an appeal from an Ohio Power Siting Board decision by landowners concerned about the construction of a wind farm in northern Ohio. The landowners argue they weren’t given the opportunity to cross-examine witnesses and board staff members who weren’t made available during the evidentiary hearing. As a result, they assert they were deprived their “statutory right to participation” and their constitutional right to procedural due process.
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