Court News Ohio
Court News Ohio
Court News Ohio

Separate Parole Violation Penalties Ruled Constitutional

Two separately issued parole violation sanctions, including a three-year prison sentence, did not violate the “double jeopardy” clauses of the U.S. and Ohio constitutions, the Ohio Supreme Court ruled today.

The Supreme Court unanimously rejected the request of Leodius Clark to have his 36months of reincarceration ordered by the Ohio Adult Parole Authority (APA) nullified because his parole officer previously ordered him to 90 days of electronic monitoring. In a per curiam opinion, the Court stated that double jeopardy clauses prohibit only multiple “criminal punishments” for a single offense.

Clark First Convicted in 1996
Clark was convicted of aggravated burglary, kidnapping and involuntary manslaughter in Mahoning County in 1996. He was sentenced to an indefinite term of eight to 25 years in prison. In February 2011, he was paroled and released, having served more than 14 years.

In August 2011, he was arrested and charged with drug trafficking and receiving stolen property. His parole officer found him in violation of his parole and imposed sanctions that included: 90 days of electronic monitoring; that his residency be at an APA-approved location; that he report to his parole officer as ordered; and he comply with all court orders related to new drug trafficking and receiving stolen property charges.

Clark was granted bond pending trial on the new charges and was required to follow his new parole sanctions. In March 2013, he was sentenced to a three-year prison term.

About three months before his prison release date, the APA conducted a hearing on his 2011 parole violations and determined Clark was not suitable for release. It assessed a 36-month continuance of his original 8-to-25-year sentence. Clark requested reconsideration of the determination, which the APA denied.

He then sought a writ of mandamus from the Seventh District Court of Appeals, arguing that his parole officer punished him for the violation by subjecting him to 90 days of electronic monitoring, and that the 36-month prison detention violated the double jeopardy clauses of the U.S. and Ohio constitutions. He also asserted other constitutional violations, and requested the court order the APA to reinstate his release and to place him on parole. The Seventh District denied the request, and Clark appealed to the Supreme Court, which is required to consider the case.

Court Clarifies Criminal Punishment
The Supreme Court opinion explained that the double jeopardy clause in Article 1, Section 10 of the Ohio Constitution has the same protection as the double jeopardy of the U.S. Constitution’s Fifth Amendment. Both provisions prohibit the state from putting a person “twice in jeopardy” for the same offense.

The clauses prohibit only multiple criminal punishments for a single offense, the Court wrote. The opinion cited the Supreme Court’s 2002 State v. Martello, decision in which it considered a double jeopardy challenge to an additional penalty for a postrelease control violation after incarceration. The Court ruled the term of incarceration for a violation was part of the original sentence and was not a second criminal punishment.

“Likewise, the sanctions imposed for Clark’s parole violation were not criminal punishments. The Double Jeopardy Clauses were not violated by the sanctions imposed for his parole violation,” the Court wrote.

Clark Challenges APA’s Right to Consider Parole
Clark also claimed the APA did not have jurisdiction to conduct a parole hearing and impose sanctions. He cited Ohio Adm. Code 5120:1-1-18(B), which states that if a parole-board member or hearing officer decided to reincarcerate an offender for a parole violation, the decision “shall constitute the official and final determination of the adult parole authority to revoke release, unless the decision is reversed by the chief of the adult parole authority.”

The Court explained that provision only applies if a parole officer orders reincarceration, which did not happen in Clark’s case. The officer ordered him to electronic monitoring.

The Court affirmed the Seventh District’s denial of the writ and allowed the sanctions to stand.

2016-1036. Clark v. Adult Parole Auth., Slip Opinion No. 2017-Ohio-8391.

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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