Court News Ohio
Court News Ohio
Court News Ohio

Williams County Hosts Supreme Court for Session with High School Students

Aerial view of Montpelier High School in Williams County, Ohio

Williams County high school students will gather at Montpelier High School next Wednesday to hear arguments in three cases before the Ohio Supreme Court.

Aerial view of Montpelier High School in Williams County, Ohio

Williams County high school students will gather at Montpelier High School next Wednesday to hear arguments in three cases before the Ohio Supreme Court.

The Ohio Supreme Court’s justices will travel to Williams County next week to hold oral arguments before nearly 600 high school students.

The Supreme Court’s off-site session will be held on Oct. 23 at Montpelier High School. Joining Montpelier’s students at the special event will be teens from Bryan, Edgerton, Edon Northwest, Fountain City Christian, Hilltop West Unity, North Central, and Stryker high schools.

The Court will consider arguments in three appeals, which involve state takeovers of failing schools, corporal punishment of children, and warrants to intercept phone calls.

Teachers and students prepare ahead of time for the Court’s visit and review articles that explain the facts and arguments in each case. Local attorneys also participate, working with educators at each school to explain Ohio’s judicial system and to discuss the materials.

On the morning of Oct. 23, justices will take questions from students. After oral arguments, students will meet the attorneys who argued before the Court to discuss each case and the legal issues.

The Supreme Court holds off-site sessions twice a year, and this is the first time Williams County will host the program. Judge Steven Bird, of the Williams County Probate/Juvenile Court, invited the Court to visit the county. It is the 77th time the Court has held a session outside Columbus as part of its nationally recognized, biannual Off-Site Court Program.

On Oct. 22, the Court will hold oral arguments in Columbus in three other cases. The Court’s Office of Public Information today released preview articles about all six cases. Below are brief highlights of each case and links to the previews.

Oral arguments in Columbus and Montpelier will begin at 9 a.m. The Court hears cases in Columbus at the Thomas J. Moyer Ohio Judicial Center. The arguments will be carried live online at and broadcast live on the Ohio Channel.

Tuesday, Oct. 22 – Columbus
In February 2016, a group of young men traveled from Ravenna to Kent to rob an acquaintance. During the robbery, one of the men shot and killed a college student and was subsequently convicted of murder and sentenced to death. In State v. Graham, the man appeals his sentence and aspects of his trial. Among his arguments, he contests the introduction of a photograph at his trial that showed him a few days before the robbery holding a gun. He also raises issues with racial slurs and racist comments he says were made by potential jurors in their questionnaires and during jury selection.

Electric distribution utility AEP Ohio requested a rate plan that contains additional charges, known as riders, which state regulators approved. The Ohio Consumers’ Counsel has appealed the plan and three of its riders. The consumer advocate argues in In re Application of Ohio Power Co. that only the federal government, not the state, has the authority to allow AEP Ohio to charge consumers for power generated by plants built in 1950s that are affiliated with AEP. The company plans to sell the electricity on the open market, and either charge or credit customers, depending on whether the price of generating power is above or below the market rate.

State v. Bryant involves an auto accident in Cincinnati. A man hit a woman’s car while passing her, and both drivers stopped. The man gave the woman his full name and phone number. She took photos of his state ID card and his license plate. After an hour, the man left, and the woman called a tow truck and the police. The man, who was convicted for failure to stop, argues he isn’t required to remain at an accident scene after he provides information listed in state law, especially when the other driver gave no indication she was going to call the police. The city counters that individuals must provide information to the police officer at the scene.

Wednesday, Oct. 23 – Off-Site Court
In 2015, House Bill 70 was introduced in the Ohio House of Representatives as a 10-page bill to expand the creation of “community learning centers.” In a single day, the Ohio Senate added a 67-page amendment to H.B. 70, passed the bill, and sent it back to the Ohio House, where the amended version passed. The amendment allows academic distress commissions to be formed for school districts receiving an “F” on the state’s school district report card, which included the Youngstown City School District. In Youngstown City School District Board of Education v. Ohio, the school district argues the legislature violated two sections of the Ohio Constitution by failing to follow the “three-reading rule” when rushing to pass the bill, and by stripping all authority from the local school district.

In State v. Faggs, a Delaware man physically disciplined his girlfriend’s son using a cord from a gaming system controller. He was convicted of domestic violence and assault. Ohio’s appellate courts disagree as to whether the state must prove that corporal punishment of a child was unreasonable or whether a defendant must show that the discipline was reasonable. The man maintains that parents and people acting in a parent’s place have a constitutional right to use physical punishment to discipline children, and the state must prove the punishment was unreasonable. The prosecutor asserts that the burden of proof shifts to parents, because corporal punishment is an excuse or justification that can be explained only by the accused.

A Fremont man was suspected of dealing cocaine and heroin. Federal agents wanted to listen in on his cell phone calls. A federal agent received a warrant from a Sandusky County judge to intercept the man’s phone calls, telling the judge he would listen to them from his Toledo office in Lucas County. The conversations led to a conviction and a 34-year prison sentence. In State v. Nettles, the man challenges the conviction, arguing the government violated the state’s wiretapping law, which says a warrant must be issued in the county “in which the interception is to take place,” which was Lucas, not Sandusky, County.