Court News Ohio
Court News Ohio
Court News Ohio

Supreme Court to Hear Seven Appeals, Three at Off-Site Session

Image of a light grey Ohio county map with one county colored in blue. The entire map is resting on a blue background.

Ohio’s justices are visiting Fayette County next week to hear three cases in front of students from local high schools.

Image of a light grey Ohio county map with one county colored in blue. The entire map is resting on a blue background.

Ohio’s justices are visiting Fayette County next week to hear three cases in front of students from local high schools.

Students in Fayette County will have a front-row view next week to arguments in three appeals that have reached the state’s court of last resort, the Supreme Court of Ohio.

On Wednesday, April 27, the seven Supreme Court justices will travel to Miami Trace High School in Washington Court House. Students from Miami Trace and two other high schools will attend the Court's special session. The visit is part of the Court’s ongoing civic education outreach to help students and the public learn more about the judicial branch.

It will be the first session held in 2022 as part of the Off-Site Court Program, which began in 1987. The Court schedules visits to a high school in the spring and another in the fall.

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

Cases at April 27 Off-Site Court
Learn more below about the three cases to be heard at the special off-site session. Each case name links to a preview article with more details about the appeals.

Witness Credibility
In 2014, a Muskingum University sophomore denied and concealed her pregnancy. She gave birth to a child and placed the infant in a trash bag. The child died, and the woman was convicted of murder. She was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. The woman claimed her trial attorney was ineffective because he failed to explain how her mental condition merited a lighter sentence. At a postconviction relief hearing , the trial judge dismissed the claims from the woman’s expert on maternal mental health. In State v. Weaver, the Court will assess whether an appeals court needs to scrutinize a trial judge’s evaluation of the credibility of a witness and if the woman received a fair hearing before an unbiased judge.

Search Warrants
Following a June 2018 fatal car crash in Licking County, officers collected three cellphones found on the ground nearby. Officers obtained a warrant to search the phones. The request stated that the devices might contain evidence related to the crash. The driver of the vehicle that crossed left of center, causing the accident, was convicted of vehicular homicide and pandering obscenity of minors. The driver argues in State v. Schubert that nothing indicated a cellphone was being used when the crash happened and no facts were presented in the warrant request to tie the collision to the cellphones. The county prosecutor maintains that the warrant was justified to find out whether distracted driving factored into the crash.

Speedy Trial
In 2016, a Lorain County man admitted to police he was drinking whiskey and smoking marijuana when he struck and killed a motorcyclist with his car. He was incarcerated for 105 days and claimed the case against him should be dismissed for violating his right to a speedy trial. The prosecutor argues the speedy trial clock was reset before the maximum 90 days had elapsed because two charges weren’t filed until a toxicology report confirmed the man had enough marijuana in his system to be over the legal limit to operate a vehicle. In State v. Sanford, the Court will determine if lab results from blood samples taken the day of an offender’s arrest reset the speedy trial timetable.

Cases at April 26 Columbus Session
On Tuesday, April 26, the Court will consider four cases during oral arguments at the Thomas J. Moyer Ohio Judicial Center in Columbus.

Open Meetings
In 2018, a Clermont County resident filed a lawsuit, alleging that the county board of commissioners violated the Ohio Open Meetings Act by going into executive session multiple times in 2017 without properly stating the reasons for the closed-door meetings. The trial court agreed, finding the commissioners listed a number of reasons that allow for the closed session, but couldn’t provide evidence as to what matters were actually discussed. In State ex rel. Hicks v. Clermont County Board of Commissioners, the Supreme Court will consider if the burden remained on the resident, not the commissioners, to prove the executive session discussions were improperly conducted.

Juvenile Transfer Hearings, Sentences
A juvenile court held a hearing for a 17-year-old facing robbery, burglary, and murder charges in Clermont County to determine whether the case should be prosecuted in adult criminal court. A police detective testified about cell-tower location data and text messages. In October 2019, the court transferred the case. The juvenile agreed to plead guilty to murder, and the adult criminal court imposed the state’s mandatory sentence for the crime – 15 years to life. The offender argues in State v. Fuell that he was deprived at the transfer hearing of the right to question the cellphone data analyst and the friend who provided the text messages. He also contends that the mandatory sentence is unconstitutional for juveniles because courts can’t consider youth as a mitigating factor. The county prosecutor counters that confrontation rights don’t apply to transfer hearings and that the chance for parole makes the sentence constitutional.

Competency Hearings
A man driving the wrong way on a Franklin County highway exit ramp crashed into another vehicle in August 2017. The driver was killed, and an adult passenger and two children were seriously injured. Before trial, the man’s lawyer raised questions about the man’s mental health and competency to stand trial. The court didn’t hold hearings to consider the issues. In State v. Hough, the man asserts that Ohio law requires courts to hold a hearing on competency if the issue is raised before a trial begins. The county prosecutor responds that the record of the proceedings doesn’t reveal signs of the defendant’s incompetency so the court’s failure to hold a hearing was harmless. 

Attorney Appointment
The Jackson County Department of Job and Family Services sought permanent custody of two children from a woman who admittedly was abusing drugs and whose husband was imprisoned for drug trafficking. The juvenile court appointed a guardian ad litem to represent the children. The eldest child, who was 7 years old at the time of the custody hearing, had reported to the guardian ad litem that he expected to be returned to live with his mother. The guardian ad litem recommended the county be granted custody of the children. In In re J.F. and J.A.F, the Court will consider if an independent attorney must be appointed to represent a child when the child’s wishes differ from the guardian ad litem’s position.