Court News Ohio
Court News Ohio
Court News Ohio

Appeals Court Rules Fourth Amendment Rights Violation

A woman’s claim that her Fourth Amendment right against unreasonable searches and seizures was violated was validated by an Ohio appeals court.

Varaina Dulaney appealed her October 2012 conviction on aggravated vehicular homicide because the Paulding County Common Pleas Court denied her motion to suppress blood-alcohol evidence that she claimed was obtained with an invalid search warrant. A three-judge panel of the Third District Court of Appeals agreed the trial court erroneously denied Dulaney’s motion, and sent the case back to the lower court.

Dulaney was charged after a car crash on November 27, 2011, in Paulding County that killed Dustin Coil and injured another passenger. A search warrant to test Dulaney’s blood samples for alcohol and other drugs was issued by a Paulding County judge, but the samples were at a medical center in neighboring Defiance County. In the appeals court’s decision, Judge Richard M. Rogers cites a similar federal court case, United States vs. Master, 614 F.3d 236, and R.C. 1907.18(A) that explicitly limits county court judges’ authority and jurisdiction.

“In sum, the Paulding County judge lacked statutory authority to issue a search warrant for Dulaney’s blood samples located in Defiance County. Under well-settled federal law, this lack of authority indicates that the issuing judge was not a judge for Fourth Amendment purposes and renders the warrant void,” Judge Rogers wrote.

Rogers added that while Dulaney’s rights were violated: “Nevertheless, we cannot conclude that suppression was the necessary remedy for the unconstitutional seizure. Rather, we remand this matter to the trial court for further proceedings so that it can determine whether suppression of the blood samples is appropriate.”

Judges John R. Willamowski and Stephen R. Shaw agreed with the decision. The Third District Court of Appeals has jurisdiction in 17 counties and is based in Lima.

State v. Dulaney, 2013-Ohio-3985
Appeal From:  Paulding Common Pleas Court
Judgment Appealed From Is: Reversed
Date of Judgment Entry on Appeal: September 16, 2013

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