Court News Ohio
Court News Ohio
Court News Ohio

Court Decides 31 Cases Consistent With Earlier Ruling on Sentence-Extension Law

The Supreme Court of Ohio today decided 31 cases based on its prior ruling allowing defendants to challenge on direct appeal the constitutionality of a state law permitting the extension of prison sentences.

The Supreme Court reversed 21 decisions by Ohio appeals courts based on its March 16 State v. Maddox decision, which held that constitutional challenges to “Reagan Tokes Law” are ripe for review on direct appeal, and dismissed 10 cases as having been improvidently accepted. In Maddox, the Court ruled that Ohio defendants in criminal cases can immediately challenge a section of the  Tokes law that allows correctional authorities to extend a prison sentence, even when it may be years before the state can do so.

The Tokes Law was named for a 21-year-old student who was abducted, raped, and murdered in 2017 by a man who was on parole for a rape conviction. The sentencing laws were enacted in the wake of that case. The cases decided by the Court today are not related to the offender who murdered Tokes.

State lawmakers enacted R.C. 2967.271 as part of the Tokes law, which authorizes the Department of Rehabilitation and Correction to extend the time for incarceration beyond a convicted offender’s minimum prison term or an early-release date, but not beyond the maximum prison term. The law allows the department, without any court approval, to lengthen the term for several reasons, including an offender’s violation of prison rules that leads to physical harm and acts that “demonstrate that the offender continues to pose a threat to society.”

Like the defendant in State v. Maddox, several offenders challenged the Tokes law on direct appeal from their convictions, which typically must be filed within 30 days of a final judgment of conviction. Among some of the other claims made by the offenders other than the ripeness issue were that the statute violates the separation-of-powers requirement of the Ohio Constitution, and that the law violates their rights to a trial by jury and due process under the U.S. and Ohio constitutions.

The Court unanimously remanded the following cases to lower courts for further proceedings:

State v. Downard, 2020-1232
State v. Velliquette, 2020-1243
State v. Cochran, 2021-0001
State v. Beatty, 2021-0374
State v. Ludwig, 2021-0383
State v. Bothuel, 2021-0422
State v. Doughty, 2021-0458
State v. Stevens, 2021-0629
State v. Mills, 2021-0662
State v. Hunter, 2021-0726
State v. Slye, 2021-0779
State v. Moran, 2021-0902 and 2021-0925
State v. Stenson, 2021-0919
State v. McGowan, 2021-1155
State v. Long, 2021-1175
State v. Woods, 2021-1327 and 2021-1348
State v. Joyce, 2021-1395
State v. Waggle, 2021-1398
State v. Williams, 2021-1415
State v. Waltz, 2021-1540
State v. Brazo, 2021-1590

The Court dismissed 10 cases as having been improvidently accepted. Those cases are:

State v. Wolfe, 2021-0059
State v. Dames, 2021-0063
State v. Ferguson, 2021-0067
State v. Stone, 2021-0086
State v. Jones, 2021-0173
State v. Crawford, 2021-0585
State v. Noble, 2021-0589
State v. Hodgkin, 2021-0707
State v. Singh, 2021-1005
State v. Tupuola, 2021-1125

Please note: Opinion summaries are prepared by the Office of Public Information for the general public and news media. Opinion summaries are not prepared for every opinion, but only for noteworthy cases. Opinion summaries are not to be considered as official headnotes or syllabi of court opinions. The full text of this and other court opinions are available online.

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