Court News Ohio
Court News Ohio
Court News Ohio

State Opposes Sealing of Convictions Before Restitution is Paid

Supreme Court to Hear Seven Cases on May 13 and 14

Image of the giant gavel in the south plaza of the Thomas J. Moyer Ohio Judicial Center

Ohio’s justices will consider a death-penalty appeal and cases about public utilities, the right to counsel, and employer liability for on-the-job injuries.

Image of the giant gavel in the south plaza of the Thomas J. Moyer Ohio Judicial Center

Ohio’s justices will consider a death-penalty appeal and cases about public utilities, the right to counsel, and employer liability for on-the-job injuries.

Franklin County prosecutors will ask the Ohio Supreme Court on Tuesday if a woman who pled guilty to theft has the right to have her 2002 conviction sealed even though she is still paying back the roughly $34,000 she stole.

Sharlene Aguirre was sentenced to five years of community control for her crime and also required to pay $2,000 to Columbus company Economy Enterprises and more than $32,000 to two insurance companies that had paid on claims stemming from the thefts.

Aguirre completed her community control in June 2007, but prosecutors contend that, based on state law, she must be “finally discharged” before applying to have her record sealed. Final discharge does not occur until all of the sentencing court’s conditions are met, including full payment of restitution, the prosecutors argue.

They claim that the Tenth District Court of Appeals incorrectly ruled in part that Aguirre could have her records sealed because she owed money only to the third-party insurance companies. The prosecutors maintain that the identity of those receiving restitution should not be a factor in whether a sentence is complete.

Aguirre counters that once she finished community control and was released from the court’s supervision, she was finally discharged and eligible after three years (in 2010) to request that her conviction be sealed. She also asserts that requiring restitution to be fully paid before allowing the sealing of records disproportionately affects low-income offenders.

Along with State v. Aguirre, the court will hear two other cases on Tuesday, May 13 and four more on Wednesday, May 14. The court’s sessions begin 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.  

Along with the brief descriptions below, the Office of Public Information today released summaries of the seven cases.

Cases for Tuesday, May 13
The court will consider these cases, in addition to Aguirre, during Tuesday’s session:

  • In Ketterer v. State, a Hamilton man was hit with a skillet and stabbed to death during a dispute over $200. The offender was sentenced to death and also convicted of robbery, burglary, and grand-theft auto. The Ohio Supreme Court ruled that the trial court did not correctly impose his sentences for the crimes not punishable by death and returned the case for resentencing. In his appeal of that resentencing, he argues that he had the right to access witness statements from the initial trial, and that his offenses should have been merged and cannot be served consecutively.
  • Toledo Bar Association v. Harvey is an attorney discipline case in which a Lucas County lawyer has been found to have violated 25 disciplinary rules in four client matters. The attorney objects to the two-year suspension recommended by the state disciplinary board, asserting that the court should consider several factors that would lessen his sanction.

Cases for Wednesday, May 14
The court will hear arguments in these four cases during Wednesday’s session:

  • In the Matter of the Application of the East Ohio Gas Company (doing business as Dominion East Ohio) for Approval of Tariffs to Adjust its Automated Meter Reading Cost Recovery Charge is a gas company’s appeal of a decision by the state’s public utilities commission ordering a refund of $1.6 million to the company’s customers because of delays in the installation of automatic meter readers. The gas company contends that the commission retroactively and unlawfully changed the deadline for implementation of the program.
  • In Schleiger v. State, the court will consider whether criminal defendants have the right to an attorney at resentencing hearings. A Preble County man convicted of felonious assault and carrying a concealed weapon chose to represent himself at a resentencing hearing in which the trial court addressed mistakes in how it imposed postrelease control. The man maintains that he has the right to counsel at any resentencing hearing, regardless of its scope. The Supreme Court is also considering conflicting appeals court opinions in this case.
  • Pro-Pak Industries v. Pixley involves a maintenance worker employed by a Maumee manufacturing facility who was injured when his leg became trapped between conveyor lines and a transfer car. The transfer car’s safety bumper did not activate at the time of the accident, but his employer argues that employer liability is limited to cases where an “equipment safety guard” is deliberately removed and the equipment operator is injured as a result. They claim that the safety bumper is not an “equipment safety guard” as defined by Ohio case law, and the record contains no evidence that the company made a deliberate decision to remove or bypass the bumper.
  • An Ohio-based maker of welding products has paid more than $12 million in settlements and lawsuits over 12 years for injuries allegedly caused by harmful substances in its products. The company carries both primary insurance policies and excess (umbrella) coverage. In The Lincoln Electric Company v. Travelers Casualty and Surety Company, the manufacturer believes that its umbrella coverage should have kicked in during two brief timeframes in the 1980s so it could be reimbursed for more of its costs in defending and resolving these matters. The case was submitted to the Ohio Supreme Court by a federal district court for a decision, and the parties have filed their briefs confidentially.
MOST SHARED