Court News Ohio
Court News Ohio
Court News Ohio

Supreme Court to Consider Different Interpretations of Corrupt Activity in Ohio’s RICO Law

Among Eight Cases Scheduled for Argument on August 20-21

Image of Chief Justice Maureen O'Connor and Justice Paul E. Pfeifer listening to oral arguments from the bench

The Chief Justice and Justices of the Ohio Supreme Court will hear arguments in eight cases September 10 and 11.

Image of Chief Justice Maureen O'Connor and Justice Paul E. Pfeifer listening to oral arguments from the bench

The Chief Justice and Justices of the Ohio Supreme Court will hear arguments in eight cases September 10 and 11.

Two Highland County men convicted of selling drugs will ask the Ohio Supreme Court next week to determine whether their drug sales of less than $500 each meet the definition of “corrupt activity” in Ohio’s Racketeer-Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) statute.

The men were tried together, but their attorneys are scheduled to argue separately for their clients in back-to-back oral arguments before the court on Tuesday, September 10. The central issue asserted in the cases is whether the profits made by an individual in a criminal enterprise or by the enterprise as a whole are to be used when calculating whether an individual has engaged in corrupt activity under Ohio law.

These two cases, State of Ohio v. Jeffrey Stevens and State of Ohio v. Zachary Bondurant, will be heard by the court with three others on Tuesday at the Thomas J. Moyer Ohio Judicial Center in Columbus. The court will hear oral arguments in three more cases on Wednesday, September 11.

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.

Cases for Tuesday, September 10
In addition to Stevens and Bondurant, the court will consider these three cases during Tuesday’s session:

  • Board of Education of the Akron City School District v. Barkoff asks the court which party in a dispute over a property’s taxable value has to prove that a sale of the property was “recent” as required by law. The property owners assert that the school board’s higher value is based on a sale that wasn’t recent, and they argue the school board had the burden to show why the sale qualified as recent in order for the sale price to be the basis for taxes.
  • Lingo v. State involves a group of misdemeanor and traffic offenders who contest court costs they were charged by the Berea Municipal Court. Lingo’s attorneys argue that the municipal court’s charges are not authorized by statute, making them void. Despite a ruling by the Eighth District Court of Appeals to the contrary, they assert that filing their class action lawsuit in a common pleas court was legal.
  • In Disciplinary Counsel v. Wallace, a Columbus attorney opposes the recommendation of the Board of Commissioners on Grievances & Discipline that his law license be suspended for two years, with one year stayed, for misappropriating funds, forging signatures, and other professional conduct violations. Arguing that he successfully represented his clients and has made changes to correctly handle client funds in the future, the attorney asks the court to fully stay the suspension.

Cases for Wednesday, September 11
The court will hear three cases on Wednesday:

  • Attorneys for Anthony Kirkland in the death penalty appeal State v. Kirkland have made ten claims of legal and procedural errors in asking the court to overturn his convictions or reduce his death sentence. They argue, in part, that testimony of “other bad acts” should have been prohibited at his trial, Kirkland’s trial lawyer was ineffective, and the prosecutor made inflammatory and prejudicial comments.
  • In Gesler v. City of Worthington Income Tax Board of Appeals, a Worthington resident asks for a refund of income taxes he paid on $2.9 million he made by exercising stock options. He asserts that the city’s ordinance specifically exempts stock-option income from local income taxes because it is reported on federal income tax form Schedule C. Attorneys for the other side argue the city ordinance conflicts with state law.
  • The Disciplinary Counsel objects in Disciplinary Counsel v. Streeter to a two-year stayed suspension recommended by the Board of Commissioners on Grievances & Discipline. Counsel argues that its proposed six-month actual suspension doesn’t conflict with a recent Supreme Court decision and is appropriate, given the amount of money the North Olmsted attorney misappropriated, his attempts to conceal the activities, and his lack of self-reporting.
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