Court News Ohio
Court News Ohio
Court News Ohio

Canton Man Convicted and Sentenced to Death for Three Murders Asks Supreme Court for New Trial

State’s Highest Court to Hear Seven Cases on December 10 and 11

Image of a snow-covered gavel in the south plaza of the Thomas J. Moyer Ohio Judicial Center

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

Image of a snow-covered gavel in the south plaza of the Thomas J. Moyer Ohio Judicial Center

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

On Wednesday, the Supreme Court of Ohio will hear the death penalty appeal of a Canton man convicted of murdering his two young children and ex-mother-in-law in 2009.

The appeal will be the first of three cases to be argued before the court on December 11, the court’s second day of oral arguments this week. The court also will consider arguments in four cases on Tuesday, December 10.

In Mammone v. State, attorneys for James Mammone III assert that publicity about the case was so pervasive in the Canton area that no impartial jury could be found. They contend that the failure to change venues deprived Mammone of his right to a fair trial.

Among several other claims of errors made during the trial, Mammone’s attorneys argue that his trial lawyers were ineffective because during the jury selection process they did not adequately ask potential jurors about what their views were on the death penalty, what they knew and thought about the case based on pre-trial publicity, and whether they could consider mitigating circumstances. His attorneys also assert that the trial lawyers should have better prepared Mammone’s parents for their testimony and limited Mammone’s own five-hour statement made to the court. They also claim that the prosecution inflamed the jury by repeatedly showing grisly crime scene and autopsy photos to a point beyond the boundaries set by the Ohio Supreme Court.

The court’s session begins at 9 a.m. each day at the Thomas J. Moyer Ohio Judicial Center in Columbus. The arguments will be streamed live online at sc.ohio.gov and broadcast live on the Ohio Channel.

The Office of Public Information today released summaries of the seven cases.

Cases for Tuesday, December 10
The court will hear four cases on Tuesday:

  • In Snyder v. Ohio Department of Natural Resources, two men own the mineral rights to a 651-acre section of the Brush Creek Wildlife Area and want to mine about 60 acres of it for coal. They plan to use strip-mining and augur-mining to extract the coal. The department owns the surface rights to the land and opposes the mining. The mineral rights’ owners argue that the property deed grants them “reasonable” surface right privileges. Their proposal is reasonable, they contend, because they want to mine only a small portion of the property, they would rehabilitate the mined land, and the use of the overall property would not be affected.
  • FirstMerit Bank v. Inks involves a dispute in Summit County over a $3.5 million commercial real estate loan. The individuals who guaranteed the loan defaulted on their payments in 2009. They claim they entered into an oral agreement with the bank two years later to stop the foreclosure and auction of the property. While the bank contends that no oral agreement was ever made, it also argues that lawsuits attempting to enforce oral agreements that make changes to property contracts are prohibited by Ohio’s statute of frauds.
  • Payday loans are an issue in Ohio Neighborhood Finance v. Scott. In this case, Cashland, which is owned by Ohio Neighborhood Finance, made a short-term loan that required repayment in one lump sum. The lender is registered under Ohio’s Mortgage Loan Act. In 2008, Ohio enacted the Short-Term Loan Act (STLA). The loan company asserts that the Ohio legislature ended high-interest payday loans when it passed the STLA and forced lenders to comply with that law or choose to register under and follow other lending statutes. It chose to offer its loans as a lender through the Mortgage Loan Act. The issue in the case is whether the STLA prohibits lenders from making single installment, short-term loans under other lending laws.
  • In Dayton Police Department and Davis v. Hauser, a K-9 officer in the department’s drug interdiction unit filed a discrimination lawsuit. Named in the lawsuit was the major who oversaw the officer’s division. His attorneys argue that employees of political subdivisions are generally immune from liability in civil actions. They also assert that employers, not managers or supervisors, are subject to Ohio’s discrimination law, and that law does not trigger any exceptions that would remove the major’s immunity in this suit.

Cases for Wednesday, December 11
In addition to Mammone, the court will consider two other cases during Wednesday’s session:

  • Seville Board of Income Tax Review v. Panther II Transportation asks the court whether transportation companies, which are regulated by the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio, are exempt from municipal taxes. The shipping company paid more than $150,000 in taxes in 2005 and 2006. The municipality claims that Ohio’s municipal income tax statute requires it to tax the net profits of all businesses in its jurisdiction, and the statute does not exclude transportation companies from these taxes.
  • In State v. Limoli, a woman was convicted in Franklin County for possession of crack cocaine before a 2011 overhaul of Ohio’s sentencing laws went into effect. However, she was sentenced after the law’s effective date. Among other changes, the law eliminated the difference in criminal penalties between possession of powder cocaine and possession of crack cocaine. The state argues that the woman should be sentenced based on the law in effect at the time of her offense – which mandated a more severe sentence.
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