Court News Ohio
Court News Ohio
Court News Ohio

Court Considers How Judges Fashion Sentences to Fit the Crimes

Image of jail cells with bars.

An offender argues his 60-year prison sentence for a spree of gunpoint robberies doesn’t fit the crimes.

Image of jail cells with bars.

An offender argues his 60-year prison sentence for a spree of gunpoint robberies doesn’t fit the crimes.

A Hamilton County Common Pleas Court judge told Tommy Glover he put his victims through hours of terror when he committed a string of armed robberies and kidnappings in 2020. The judge sentenced Glover to 60 years in prison.

The trial court imposed consecutive sentences for his armed robbery charges that totaled 60 years while running the sentences for kidnapping concurrently. However, on appeal, the First District Court of Appeals noted that Glover didn’t physically harm his victims. The appellate court found Glover’s sentence was far harsher than those imposed on murderers and rapists. The First District lowered Glover’s sentence to 25 years, ruling that the evidence did not clearly and convincingly support the trial court’s “stacking” of the robbery sentences.

Ohio criminal sentencing law allows a trial judge to impose consecutive sentences if a court finds a single sentence would not sufficiently protect the public and punish the offender. The law, R.C. 2929.14(C)(4), requires the judge to make a specific set of findings before stacking the sentences. During oral arguments next week, the Supreme Court of Ohio will consider whether the Hamilton County judge appropriately determined that Glover should spend 60 years in prison or if the First District had the authority to reduce his sentence.

Gunpoint Robberies Lead to Long Sentence
On two occasions, Glover forced the same man to drive to various ATMs and withdraw cash. He forced two college students at gunpoint to drive to ATMs and withdraw money. He robbed a woman at gunpoint and forced her to drive around for about 10 minutes. He robbed a man at gunpoint, taking his phone and car. Glover was indicted on six counts of aggravated robbery and five counts of kidnapping, each with gun specifications of one or three years.

Glover was convicted of the crimes. Prior to the trial, he turned down a plea bargain for the robberies and kidnappings that proposed he serve a 15-year prison sentence. At sentencing, the assistant prosecutor handling the case recommended a 20- to 25-year sentence, and the victims recommended a range from 20 years to the maximum sentence, which could have been up to 102 years.

The trial judge conducted a required analysis under R.C. 2929.14(C)(4) and determined that consecutive sentences were necessary to protect the public and punish Glover and that the sentence wasn’t disproportionate to his conduct. The judge also made the finding required by R.C. 2929.14(C)(4) that Glover committed two or more offenses that were so great or unusual that no single prison term adequately reflected the seriousness of his conduct.

Sentence Calculation Justified, Prosecutor Asserts
Glover disputes how his sentence was reached. The Hamilton County Prosecutor’s Office argues the judge followed the law and the sentence was consistent with the Supreme Court’s 2023 State v. Gwynne decision on imposing consecutive sentences.

The prosecutor argues the law places no obligation on the trial court to consider the total sentence, but rather the court must assess if each consecutive sentence being imposed leads to an appropriate sentence. The office notes even the First District agreed that the trial judge could justify stacking some of Glover’s sentences.

The prosecutor asserts the trial judge thoughtfully selected a sentence that fit the crimes. The court imposed six of the three-year gun specifications to run consecutively for a total of 18 years. The prison time for each robbery count ranged from three to 11 years. The trial judge picked seven years, in the middle of the range, for a total of 42 years. All the other sentences for kidnapping and the gun specifications were ordered to run concurrently. The trial judge weighed all the factors and addressed the necessary issues to reach the sentence, the prosecutor argues. The First District might disagree with the total amount of prison time Glover received, but the appeals court was wrong to conclude that the trial court didn’t produce the evidence to justify the sentence, the prosecutor maintains.

Trial Court Wrongly Applied Sentencing Law, Offender Maintains
Glover asserts that the Supreme Court’s decision in Gwynne  misinterpreted how R.C. 2929.14(C)(4) should be applied. The trial court must consider the total sentence and must reach a sentence by using a “recursive” formula, he argues. Under the recursive approach, a trial court seeking to impose consecutive sentences first determines how many years in prison is appropriate for each offense. Then, the trial court considers the first two sentences it seeks to run consecutively -- for example, two 10-year terms. At that point, the judge determines if 20 years is necessary to protect the public and isn’t disproportionate to the crimes. If yes, the trial court runs all the other sentences concurrently. If no, the trial court then adds a third consecutive sentence and considers if that creates a total sufficient sentence. The trial court continues in this fashion until it reaches an appropriate number or has run all the sentences consecutively, he explains.

Glover researched sentences of others who committed similar crime sprees in Ohio. For those who didn’t harm victims, the offender’s average sentence was 27 years, and for those who harmed at least one victim, it was 33 years. Based on those figures, the trial court should have stopped running his sentences consecutively after reaching somewhere near the 25-year mark, he argues.

Watch Oral Arguments Online
The Court will consider State v. Glover and two other appeals on Wednesday, Feb. 7. The Court will hear three cases on Tuesday, Feb. 6.  Oral arguments begin at 9 a.m. The arguments will be streamed live online at and broadcast live on the Ohio Channel, where they are archived. Detailed case previews from the Office of Public Information are available by clicking on the name of each case.

Tuesday, Feb. 6
Motor Vehicles
At a Sandusky County party, a driver took three people for a ride in a utility vehicle with a bench seat in the front and a flat bed in the back. While driving on a dirt trail, the driver lost control, and a passenger had to be taken to the hospital. The driver was convicted of aggravated vehicular assault, operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol (OVI), and other charges . State v. Fork involves differing definitions of “motor vehicle” in state law. A motor vehicle in the OVI law includes utility vehicles, but in the criminal statutes , utility vehicles aren’t considered motor vehicles. The county prosecutor argues that the motor vehicle definition in the OVI law applies because the vehicular assault offense depended on an OVI conviction. The vehicular assault conviction should be upheld, the prosecutor asserts. The driver disagrees, maintaining that the vehicle isn’t a motor vehicle under the vehicular assault statute.

A children services agency asked the Muskingum County Juvenile Court to place twins born in 2020 in the legal custody of their aunt. During the case proceedings, a social worker testified about a report from a psychologist who evaluated the twins’ mother. The psychologist didn’t testify. The children services agency notes in In re R.G.M. and R.G.M. that the mother could still visit the twins and her parental rights weren’t being terminated. The agency contends that she isn’t entitled to cross-examine the psychologist in the custody proceeding. The mother counters that parents have a constitutional right to the care, custody, and upbringing of their children – a right that is deprived when a parent can’t cross-examine an expert whose report is a factor in a custody case.

Electricity Rates
Under Ohio’s deregulated electric power system, monopoly electric companies are to completely “unbundle” the costs of generation, distribution, and transmission to create a competitive retail electric service market. An alternate supplier of electric generation services claims the PUCO is allowing an Ohio utility to charge distribution rates that subsidize the utility’s competitive generation services. This provides the utility with an unfair advantage in the sale of electricity, the competitor argues. When the Court hears In the Matter of the Application of Ohio Power Company, it will consider whether customers who receive their generation services from the utility should pay more to eliminate any subsidization.

Wednesday, Feb. 7
Transferred Charges
A Willoughby man found a car for sale through an online marketplace app, and he coordinated with the sellers to meet in Cleveland to obtain the car. The sale was a fiction. At the meeting, the buyer was shot and later died during surgery. The shooter was a juvenile at the time. The juvenile court transferred most of the shooter’s charges to the criminal court, but determined there was no probable cause for a charge of aggravated murder. The grand jury, however, indicted the youth on aggravated murder and other offenses. In State v. Macklin, the county prosecutor maintains that indicting for aggravated murder was allowed because the charge was rooted in a murder charge transferred by the juvenile court. The shooter responds that charges that weren’t transferred can’t be considered by the criminal court.

Workers’ Compensation
An employee was injured at a Marion County manufacturing plant in 2015 and received workers’ compensation benefits until January 2017. Years later, the worker sought to amend his workers’ compensation claim to include another injury. The Ohio Industrial Commission denied the additional coverage. The man appealed the commission’s decision to the common pleas court. The man voluntarily dismissed the appeal and refiled in April 2022. The employer asked the trial court to dismiss the case, arguing that the employee had five years from the last payment of medical benefits or compensation to seek additional coverage for an existing injury. The court found that the deadline to rule on the appeal expired in January 2022. In Caldwell v. Whirlpool Corporation, the Court will consider whether the five-year time limit ends once a court challenge begins.