Court News Ohio
Court News Ohio
Court News Ohio

Record-Sealing Case One of Seven to Be Heard by Supreme Court

Image of the giant gavel in the south reflecting pool at the Thomas J. Moyer Ohio Judicial Center

Among the cases set for oral argument in early June, the Ohio Supreme Court will examine the statute that describes the process applicants must follow when asking to have a court record sealed.

Image of the giant gavel in the south reflecting pool at the Thomas J. Moyer Ohio Judicial Center

Among the cases set for oral argument in early June, the Ohio Supreme Court will examine the statute that describes the process applicants must follow when asking to have a court record sealed.

The Ohio Supreme Court will review whether the record in a dismissed court case can be sealed during the time when the state can still file charges.

The appeal from Fairfield County is one of seven cases the Supreme Court will consider during next week’s oral arguments.

Case Dismissed, But Could Be Pursued Later
After a March 2015 dispute with his mother at their Pickerington home, Colton Dye was charged with arson, menacing, criminal damaging/threats, and domestic violence. The prosecutor determined there wasn’t enough evidence to pursue the case and dismissed it without prejudice, which allows a prosecutor to re-file charges later.

Dye applied to have the record sealed in June 2015. The trial court decided he couldn’t yet ask to have his record sealed because the statutes of limitations for the alleged offenses hadn’t expired. The appeals court agreed, and Dye appealed to the Supreme Court.

Views Differ on Law’s Requirements
Dye acknowledges that state law, in R.C. 2953.52, indicates that a court deciding whether to seal a record must check whether any applicable statutes of limitations have expired. If not, Dye contends that the statute then requires courts to consider other factors, specifically whether any criminal proceedings are pending against the applicant and whether the applicant’s interests outweigh the government’s need to keep the record public. The court reviews these factors, and approves or disapproves the application for sealing, Dye notes. He argues that nothing in the statute prevents a court from sealing a record before a statute of limitations on an alleged offense expires.

The Lancaster law director disagrees, arguing that the record of a case dismissed without prejudice cannot be sealed during the time before a statute of limitations expires. Public policy and the statute’s legislative history supports this view, the law director maintains.

Oral Arguments Scheduled
On Tuesday, June 6, the Court will consider three cases, including a Trumbull County death-penalty appeal. The Court will hear State v. Dye and three other cases on Wednesday, June 7. The Court’s session begins at 9 a.m. each day at the Thomas J. Moyer Ohio Judicial Center in Columbus. All arguments are streamed live online at and broadcast live on The Ohio Channel.

Case Previews Available
Along with the brief descriptions below, the Office of Public Information today released previews of the central arguments in the cases.

Cases for Tuesday, June 6
In State v. Martin, a Cleveland man is appealing his convictions and death sentence for shooting two people, killing one of them, in 2012 in Warren. The man argues that his trial counsel failed to ensure that potential jurors hadn’t been swayed by pretrial publicity about the murder and his involvement in taking a jail officer hostage before his trial. He also disputes his tampering-with-evidence conviction, the presentation of certain evidence during the penalty phase of the trial, and several other aspects of the investigation and legal proceedings.

A group of agricultural landowners believe the state tax commissioner has underestimated the cost to clear woodland, resulting in large increases in their tax assessment under the current agricultural use valuation program (CAUV). In Adams v. Testa, the landowners assert they have the right to challenge the values before the Ohio Board of Tax Appeals, but the commissioner maintains the group has now followed the proper process to challenge the tables he produces to calculate the CAUV values.

Cases for Wednesday, June 7
For nearly a decade, a Brooklyn, Ohio, couple fought off attempts by an electric utility company to cut down a tree in their yard that was near an overhead transmission line. In Corrigan v. Cleveland Electric Illuminating Co., the Court will determine if the state’s public utilities commission acted unreasonably when it allowed the company to remove the tree because it may have interfered with the company’s transmission lines.

The Supreme Court will reconsider its December decision involving an employee of an Ohio company who received two types of compensation after being injured on the job. The employee asserts in State ex rel. Ohio Presbyterian Retirement Services v. Industrial Commission that the ruling has created confusion about the meaning of “injury” in the state’s workers’ compensation system and has overturned earlier case law about the issue. Different injuries stemming from the same incident can be compensated separately, she argues.

A Cuyahoga County jury convicted a man of aggravated robbery and grand theft of a motor vehicle, but didn’t reach a verdict on two kidnapping counts, which the state then dismissed. When the man appealed his convictions, the appellate court ruled that it was prohibited from considering the case because the state could still bring him to trial for kidnapping. In State v. Jackson, both the man and the county prosecutor disagree with the appeals court and maintain that the convictions were final and could be appealed, regardless of the dismissed kidnapping charges.