Court News Ohio
Court News Ohio
Court News Ohio

Court to Hear Six Appeals at Two-Day Off-Site Session in Akron

Image of the red-brick circular building of the University of Akron School of Law

The Ohio Supreme Court travels to Summit County next week, giving students the chance to see oral arguments in person at an off-site session hosted by the University of Akron School of Law.

Image of the red-brick circular building of the University of Akron School of Law

The Ohio Supreme Court travels to Summit County next week, giving students the chance to see oral arguments in person at an off-site session hosted by the University of Akron School of Law.

The Ohio Supreme Court will hold two days of oral arguments next week outside of its Columbus home as part of a civic education program for students.

The Supreme Court justices typically travel twice each year, in the spring and fall, to schools across the state, giving students a front-row view to the state’s court of last resort. However, the pandemic put the nationally recognized and popular off-site program on a hiatus for two years.

The return of Off-Site Court coincides with centennial celebration of the University of Akron School of Law, which on Oct. 26 and 27 will host the seven justices and hundreds of high school students for arguments in six cases. Traditionally a one-day event, this off-site visit marks only the second time the Court will conduct two consecutive days of arguments on the road. 

The Court will welcome students from 13 Summit County high schools, including youth from eight Akron public schools: Akron Early College; Akron Buchtel; Akron East; Akron North; Ellet Community Learning Center; Firestone Community Learning Center; Kenmore-Garfield; and National Inventors Hall of Fame STEM. Other school districts that will attend: Archbishop Hoban; Cuyahoga Falls; Springfield; Stow-Munroe Falls; and Tallmadge.

University of Akron undergraduates and Akron Law students also will participate in the program. To accommodate the number of students attending, Off-Site Court will be held at the Jean Hower Taber Student Union on the University of Akron campus. The event is open to the public.

Program Offers In-Classroom Prep, Talk with Justices, and Post-Argument Discussions
The Court will consider three cases each day. Teachers and students prepare ahead of time for the visit and study the facts and arguments in the case they will hear during the Court’s session. Local attorneys also assist, working with educators at each school to explain Ohio’s judicial system and discuss the materials.

Before the Court’s session each day, the justices meet with a group of students to explain their work at the Court and the state’s judicial system, while fielding their questions. After listening to arguments, each student group exits the makeshift courtroom to meet with the attorneys who argued the case for a debrief, where students can share their thoughts and questions.

Oral arguments will begin each day at 9 a.m. The arguments will be streamed live online at and broadcast live on the Ohio Channel, which also archives them.

The Court’s Office of Public Information released preview articles today about the six cases. Below are brief highlights of each case and links to the previews.

Tuesday, Oct. 26
Cuyahoga County prosecutors allege that a Cleveland woman was raped in April 2005. She went to the hospital, where staff conducted an exam to collect sexual-assault evidence. Around this time, the police department stored this type of evidence, commonly known as rape kits, from numerous possible crime victims, including this woman, but the kits sat untested for years. In 2011, the department began sending the backlogged rape kits to a state agency for DNA testing. Prosecutors indicted a local man in this case in 2017, but the trial court dismissed the charges because of the 12-year delay between the alleged crime and the indictment. In State v. Bourn, the prosecutor contends that the man must prove his case actually was harmed by not having access to his cellphone records from that time, the police file, or the now-closed bar where the woman said they met. The man argues the missing evidence was crucial to his defense.

In Smathers v. Glass, the January 2016 death of a 2-year-old from dehydration prompted a lawsuit from the girl’s grandmother against the Perry County children services agency and caseworkers. The grandmother maintains that she called children services multiple times in the latter half of 2015, raising concerns about the child’s mother and the conditions of the mother’s house, where the child lived. The grandmother asserts that the caseworkers ignored obvious dangers to her granddaughter and acted recklessly, making them legally responsible for the girl’s death. The caseworkers respond that they acted based on the information they had at the time, which was that the child was living with the grandmother and the child’s father starting in late November.

When released from prison early, a Fairfield County man consented to allowing searches without a warrant of himself and his property. During a “home check” in 2018, the man’s probation officer discovered pornography on his cellphone. After getting a warrant, further searches by the officers led to child-pornography-related charges. The man sought to suppress the evidence found during the search but was denied. He was convicted of the charges. An appeals court reversed the trial court’s decision, finding that a state law requires probation officers have “reasonable grounds” to search a person on probation. In State v. Campbell, the Court will consider whether the officer needed “reasonable grounds” or had the right to search based on Campbell’s consent.

Wednesday, Oct. 27
In March 2017, a Cuyahoga County man indicted for rape, kidnapping, and assault pleaded not guilty, and the trial court released him on bond. He was required to wear an electronic monitor, but the court imposed no restrictions regarding weapons. After authorities discovered the man posted pictures of himself on social media outside of his home with a handgun, he was arrested and charged with having a weapon “under disability” for possessing a firearm while under indictment for a violent offense. In State v. Philpotts, the man argues the Ohio law penalizing gun possession while indicted, but not convicted, of a violent crime violates his right to bear arms under the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

The Cuyahoga County prosecutor filed charges alleging a man shot his uncle in 2017 on a Cleveland street. The uncle was injured and hospitalized, and his mother contacted police about the shooting. As the trial date approached, the prosecutor believed that the shooting victim and his mother wouldn’t show up in court. The state asked for warrants to force the shooting victim and his mother to appear as material witnesses in the case, but the trial court denied several requests. The prosecutor in State v. Eatmon argues that, without the warrants and the witness testimony, a serious case involving a shooting can’t move forward. The accused man counters that the state’s failed attempts at serving subpoenas to the witnesses doesn’t justify the need for material-witness warrants.

When a police officer knocked on the door of a Marion woman’s home to serve her with an arrest warrant, she locked the door. Through a window, the officer saw the woman grab several plastic baggies that the officer believed were used to carry drugs. The officer found the woman in her back bedroom with marijuana. The officer saw a book bag with a baggie partially hanging out of it in the bathroom. A commanding officer arrived and – without a search warrant – opened the book bag, discovering enough marijuana to charge the woman with a felony. In State v. Burroughs, the woman argues the search violated her rights against unreasonable search and seizure under the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and the evidence contained in the book bag cannot be admitted in court.