Court News Ohio
Court News Ohio
Court News Ohio

Wednesday, March 30, 2022

State of Ohio v. David Belville, Case no. 2021-0483
Fourth District Court of Appeals (Lawrence County)

Amanda Brandt v. Roy Pompa, et al., Case no. 2021-0497
Eighth District Court of Appeals (Cuyahoga County)

State of Ohio v. Martin L. Hatton, Case no. 2021-0704
Fourth District Court of Appeals (Pickaway County)

In re: K.K., et al., Case nos. 2021-0822 and 2021-0857
Twelfth District Court of Appeals (Butler County)

Did Effort to Comply With Discovery Extend Speedy Trial Time Deadline?

State of Ohio v. David Belville, Case No. 2021-0483
Fourth District Court of Appeals (Lawrence County)


  • While the state prepares discovery materials for a criminal defendant, is speedy trial time suspended?
  • Under Ohio law, if a criminal defendant does not notify the state that no discovery material is being provided, and the state has not requested discovery materials, is speedy trial time suspended?

David Belville and three others were arrested in 2019 on drug charges. Bellville was charged with one count of aggravated trafficking of drugs in the vicinity of a juvenile and four other charges.

Belville was jailed in Lawrence County after his July 2019 arrest for two days, and then released on bond for medical reasons. A week later he was indicted on the drug charges and remained out of jail on bond until he was rearrested in September. From September to November 2019, he spent 77 days in jail. At no time did Belville waive his federal and state constitutional rights to a speedy trial, and he didn’t request any continuances in his case.

A significant piece of evidence authorities used to charge Belville and the others was video surveillance footage from cameras inside and outside of Belville’s home. The Lawrence County Prosecutor’s Office indicated to the trial court that the state had a massive amount of video footage that was being transferred to discs.

Multiple Defendants, Video Size Create Confusion
The first mention of providing discovery to Belville was at his Sept. 4, 2019, arraignment. Since the arrest of Belville and the others in July 2019, the prosecutor told the trial court that discovery had been “rolling along.” The prosecutor explained the discovery provided to Belville would be essentially the same as provided to the other co-defendants except for the video footage that had yet to be processed and turned over.

The other defendants accepted plea bargains between August and October. Belville requested discovery on Sept. 16, and the state provided 1,200 pages of documents the next day. The office confirmed it was still reviewing the video footage and would share it with the defense.

At an October pretrial hearing, the parties understood that to meet Belville’s speedy trial rights, a trial had to occur before December 2019. However, there was uncertainty about the exact date. A trial was set for Nov. 20. On Nov. 19, Belville filed a motion to dismiss the case, arguing his speedy trial time had elapsed by 13 days.

Under Ohio law, unless a defendant waives the right to a speedy trial, a trial must commence within 270 days from time of the arrest. The law also states that each day of incarceration counts as three days toward the speedy trial time. Belville counted his two days in jail in July and his 77 days after arrest in September as 237 days. Coupled with his 46 days on medical release, he maintained that on the date he asked for dismissal, 283 days had lapsed.

The prosecutor argued the time tolled because the office notified Belville repeatedly that it would be preparing the video footage, and that supplemental discovery paused the speedy trial clock. The prosecutor also argued that under Ohio’s discovery rules, once Belville requested discovery, he had an obligation to turn over to the prosecution any discovery materials he had that should be shared with the state. Because Belville hadn’t turned anything over, he paused his speedy trial time, the prosecutor stated.

The trial court sided with the prosecutor. The next day Belville pleaded guilty to aggravating trafficking and was sentenced to 10 to 15 years in prison. Belville appealed his conviction to the Fourth District Court of Appeals, which affirmed his conviction.

Belville appealed to the Supreme Court of Ohio, which agreed to hear his case.

No Action Tolled Trial Limit, Offender Argues
Belville explains that under the Sixth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and Article I, Section 10 of the Ohio Constitution, he has a right to a speedy trial. States have the right to establish speedy trial requirements, and Ohio has under R.C. 2945.71. The law sets a 270-day period for a trial for a felony crime to commence unless the time limit either is waived by the defendant or a “tolling event” occurs that extends the time to conduct a trial.

Belville notes that R.C. 2945.72 specifies the events that could toll his trial and the prosecutor can’t point to any event that triggered the tolling. The Fourth District agreed with the prosecution’s argument that two events tolled the time limit, Belville notes. He argues neither of those should be considered.

First, the prosecutor maintained that providing supplementary discovery, or additional evidence requested by the defendant, tolls the clock. The prosecutor asserted that Belville tolled the time when his attorney asked to see the additional footage that was being transferred to discs. Belville argues that request wasn’t “supplementary.” It was the information the prosecution agreed to provide on Sept. 17, the day after Belville’s discovery request. The rest of the materials was the delayed fulfillment of the request, he argues. The days used to copy the footage weren’t related to any new requests for information and shouldn’t stop the speedy trial time, he concludes.

Next, the prosecutor asserted that Belville was under an obligation to reciprocate with discovery information in his possession. Because he never notified the court or the prosecutor that he didn’t have any information to turn over, the Fourth District ruled that constitutes neglect under R.C. 2945.72(D), which is one of the events that stops the speedy trial clock. Belville argues that “neglect” to provide discovery is only triggered if the prosecution requests that Belville provide information, which it didn’t. Belville explains that in many cases, the accused doesn’t have information to share with the prosecutors, and it isn’t uncommon for the prosecutor to not expect to receive anything. In cases where the prosecution doesn’t even make a request, the failure to proactively tell the prosecution that there is no information to share shouldn’t be considered neglect, Belville argues.

Belville argues the prosecutor failed to prove any reason why the time limit should be tolled, and his case should be dismissed.

Discovery Acts Tolled Time, Prosecutor Argues
The prosecutor notes that under R.C. 2845.72(E), a demand for discovery constitutes a tolling event. The state has a reasonable time to provide discovery and if it is reasonably carrying out its discovery duties, the speed trial time is tolled, the office argues. It maintains the Fourth District correctly noted that Belville wasn’t entitled to speedy trial days after the October status conference when the prosecutors informed him the office was moving as fast as possible to provide the video footage. The prosecutor notes that it repeatedly provided information in the weeks following the status conference and didn’t do anything to intentionally delay the trial.

The office also notes that the duty to reciprocate with discovery information was imposed once Belville requested discovery, and nothing in the Ohio Rules of Criminal Procedure require the prosecutor make a further demand that Belville reply. Belville could have had information, the prosecutor notes, and he has several months to either turn it over or tell the prosecutor that nothing will be shared. The failure to comply with the rule constitutes neglect, and that is another tolling event that justifiably delayed Belville’s trial date, the office asserts.

Friend-of-the-Court Briefs Submitted
An amicus curiae brief supporting the Belville’s position has been jointly submitted by the Cuyahoga County Public Defender’s Office, the Hamilton County Public Defender’s Office, and the Ohio Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers.

The Ohio Prosecuting Attorneys Association has filed an amicus brief supporting the Lawrence County prosecutor.

Dan Trevas

Docket entries, memoranda, briefs (including amicus briefs), and other information about this case may be accessed through the case docket.

Representing the State of Ohio from the Lawrence County Prosecutor’s Office: Brigham Anderson, 740.533.4360

Representing David Belville from the Ohio Public Defender’s Office: Addison Spriggs, 614.644.0702

Return to top

Does Compensation Limit Violate Rights of Child Sexual Abuse Victims?

Amanda Brandt v. Roy Pompa et al., Case No. 2021-0497
Eighth District Court of Appeals (Cuyahoga County)


  • Does R.C. 2315.18 – which limits the amount a person can receive for nonmonetary losses or injuries – violate the state constitutional rights of victims who are sexually abused as children and suffer severe and permanent injuries?
  • Should the Supreme Court of Ohio overrule its 2007 decision in Arbino v. Johnson & Johnson, which found the state’s cap on nonmonetary losses is constitutional?

Roy Pompa of Brook Park was convicted in May 2007 on 93 counts, including 17 counts of rape and 21 counts of gross sexual imposition. Pompa had drugged and raped girls ages 6 to 13 in his house and video recorded his activities. One of his victims was Amanda Brandt, a friend of Pompa’s daughter. Pompa sexually abused Brandt when she was 11 and 12 during sleepovers with his daughter. He was sentenced to life in prison without parole.

Brandt filed a civil lawsuit in Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court against Pompa in 2017, seeking damages. She alleged intentional criminal wrongdoing, knowing dissemination of child pornography, and intentional infliction of emotional distress.

Brandt’s mother testified that, after the abuse, her daughter isolated herself and experienced severe anxiety and anger issues. Brandt’s grades suffered, and she had difficulty sleeping. As an adult, Brandt deals with post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, and constant nightmares, and she avoids group settings, such as parties and the grocery store, because of panic attacks. After high school, she lost a job due to anxiety, self-medicated with heroin, was homeless for a year, and attempted suicide.

Jury Considers Appropriate Amount for Harm to Victim
Brandt’s attorney and Pompa’s counsel stipulated to Pompa’s offenses at trial. The jury determined that Brandt was entitled to $134 million in damages – $14 million in compensatory damages for acts that occurred before April 2005, $20 million in damages for acts after that date, and $100 million in punitive damages. April 2005 is when legislation took effect as part of tort reform. One statute, R.C. 2315.18, limits the amount a person can receive for nonmonetary losses or injuries, such as PTSD. Based on the law, the trial court reduced the $20 million amount to $250,000.

Brandt appealed the reduction to the Eighth District Court of Appeals, which upheld the trial court’s decision. Brandt appealed to the Supreme Court of Ohio, which agreed to review the issues.

Circumstances of Sexual Abuse Prove Damages Cap Unconstitutional, Victim Argues
Brandt states that the purpose of the justice system in civil lawsuits is to make the victim whole. However, the R.C. 2315.18 cap on noneconomic damages runs counter to that goal by severely limiting the rights of victims of childhood sexual abuse, she maintains.

In 2016, the Supreme Court of Ohio considered an appeal from a woman who was sexually assaulted as a child by a pastor. In her civil lawsuit, the trial court reduced the jury’s determination for nonmonetary damages from $3.5 million to $350,000, in accordance with R.C. 2315.18. In Simpkins v. Grace Brethren Church of Delaware, the Supreme Court ruled the cap as applied to the woman’s case was constitutional. The opinion stated, though, that “there may exist a set of facts under which application of the statutory damage caps would prove unconstitutional.” Brandt contends that her case proves the cap is unconstitutional for her and child victims of sexual abuse.

Her brief notes recovery of damages for physical injuries or economic losses is unlimited. Child victims of sexual abuse rarely have significant economic injuries and tend not to suffer from certain physical injuries, such as a permanent physical deformity, that are exempt from the damages cap, the brief states. It maintains, though, that the emotional and psychological injuries suffered by these victims is real, substantial, and catastrophic, and may also manifest physically. The distinctions made in the statute among these injuries are arbitrary and irrational, and protect the perpetrators, Brandt’s brief contends. The distinctions also create different classes of victims, in violation of the constitutional right of child victims of sexual abuse to equal protection under the law, Brandt asserts.

She also argues the Eighth District ignored the jury’s verdict, minimized the evidence, and punished her for taking steps to overcome the sexual abuse. She notes that the jury, which heard the testimony, found that the sexual abuse caused her ongoing, debilitating emotional and psychological injuries. The statute intrudes on the constitutional right to a trial by jury for child sexual abuse victims by undermining the jury’s role in determining the appropriate outcome in a case, Brandt’s brief contends.

“The Legislature, without hearing any facts of the case, gets to decide that no matter the facts of your case, you get no more than $250,000.00, regardless of the jury’s verdict,” the brief states. “As applied to Amanda Brandt, the jury gets 2% say in the award and the Legislature gets 98%.”

Earlier Rulings Decide This Case, Which Supreme Court Should Dismiss, Perpetrator Asserts
Pompa’s brief maintains that the Court should dismiss the case, in part because a ruling will have no practical effect for Brandt. Pompa is in prison and will not be able to pay the judgment, regardless of whether it is $114 million or increased to $134 million, his brief states.

Pompa also argues the factual distinctions between Brandt’s case and Simpkins don’t warrant a different decision from the Court now. In Simpkins, the Court ruled that applying the cap on noneconomic damages doesn’t affect the rights of child sexual abuse victims to a jury trial any differently than it affects others subject the same cap. Comparing physical and emotional injuries, the Court noted the statute applies in the same manner to all people, regardless of the victim’s age or the nature of the wrong. In addition, Simpkins stated that catastrophic physical injuries exempted from the cap can provide more concrete evidence of damages. That’s a rational basis for limiting recovery for other nonmonetary damages, the Court determined.

Pompa agrees with the Eighth District’s decision, which stated the harm to Brandt didn’t meet the extreme qualifications that would justify removing the cap. Pompa also notes the jury didn’t consider Brandt’s claim contesting the constitutionality of R.C. 2315.18. The jury determined damages, but the trial court reviewed the constitutional claim and rejected it, he maintains.

In its decision, the Eighth District recognized Brandt’s mental health struggles after the abuse, and also noted Brandt is married now with children, works part-time as a waitress, and finished a class for a real estate license. The appeals court concluded not all of her mental health issues and symptoms stem from the sexual abuse. Pompa’s brief argues it’s logical that a person who recovers from an injury must claim fewer damages than a person who hasn’t made the same strides.

Supreme Court’s 2007 Decision in Arbino
In Arbino v. Johnson & Johnson (2007), the Supreme Court of Ohio considered questions of state law submitted by a federal court. In one of those questions, the Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the limits on noneconomic damages “on their face,” or generally.

Brandt argues the criteria for overturning Arbino have been met. She maintains that the case was wrongly decided, partly because juries, not the legislature, are responsible for deciding damages. In addition, the state hasn’t economically prospered with the passage of the law – which was one of its goals – and the statute is unworkable because of the distinctions it draws between injuries, she contends.

Pompa counters that Arbino was correctly decided and the circumstances leading to the statute’s enactment still exist and are of concern today. Pompa also rejects Brandt’s claim that the state hasn’t achieved the goals intended by the legislation. It’s the General Assembly’s job to decide how to weigh the economic factors and insurance premiums connected to these “inherently subjective awards” now and at the time of the law’s passage, his brief asserts.

“The statutory caps increase certainty in projecting tort plaintiffs’ damages; minimize the extreme range in jury verdicts, which were often improperly fueled by emotion and/or the underlying tort itself, as opposed to the actual damages sustained by the plaintiff; and importantly reduce the disparity in results among similarly situated tort plaintiffs,” Pompa’s brief concludes.

Three Amicus Briefs Back Brandt’s Views
Brandt’s challenge to the state’s cap has attracted three amicus curiae briefs from several organizations, including the Ohio Alliance to End Sexual Violence, in support of her arguments. The alliance notes that harm from childhood sexual abuse manifests for decades after the abuse, with financial costs for communities and society as well.

The following organizations also submitted briefs with arguments in support of Brandt:

  • American Association for Justice and Ohio Association for Justice, jointly
  • American Professional Society on the Abuse of Children, Child USA, Coalition for Children, Crime Victims Center Inc., My Sister’s Place, and Ohio Crime Victim Justice Center, jointly.

Six Amicus Briefs Argue Law’s Constitutionality
Groups representing business and insurance interests are among the six amicus briefs maintaining that the cap is constitutional. A former General Assembly member who helped to draft the statute containing the cap filed a brief. The Ohio Attorney General’s Office also joins those advocating for the law’s constitutionality, but urges the legislature to remove the damages limit for civil cases brought against rapists. The office calls the cap on damages for psychological harm experienced by rape victims “incredibly foolish.”

The other amicus briefs supporting R.C. 2315.18’s constitutionality were filed by:

  • American Property Casualty Insurance Association, American Tort Reform Association, Coalition for Litigation Justice Inc., NFIB Small Business Legal Center, and U.S. Chamber of Commerce
  • Ohio Alliance for Civil Justice
  • Ohio Association of Civil Trial Attorneys
  • Product Liability Advisory Council Inc.

Kathleen Maloney

Docket entries, memoranda, briefs (including amicus briefs), and other information about this case may be accessed through the case docket.

Representing Amanda Brandt: John Fitch, 614.545.3930

Representing Roy Pompa: Samuel Smith II, 216.225.7972

Return to top

Did Expert’s Memo Contradict Testimony Enough to Warrant New Trial?

State of Ohio v. Martin Hatton, Case No. 2021-0704
Fourth District Court of Appeals (Pickaway County)

ISSUES: Must a defendant receive a new trial when newly discovered evidence may indicate false testimony?

Since his 1997 rape conviction, Martin Hatton has made several attempts to have the charges against him dismissed or to receive a new trial. His postconviction relief petition filed in 2018 centers on a memo produced by an expert witness more than a year after the trial as Hatton was in the process of seeking postconviction relief in 1998. Hatton claims the 1998 memo, discovered by him in 2018, conclusively proves that DNA evidence excluded him from being one of the two rapists who attacked a 17-year-old Circleville girl as she slept in her home.

In January 1997, the girl went to bed shortly after midnight in her upstairs bedroom. Her parents also slept upstairs. About an hour later, the girl was awakened by a gloved hand over her mouth. The man, who she couldn’t identify, threatened to kill her with a knife and raped her. The man ordered the girl to go downstairs to the laundry room where a man identified as Ricky Dunn was waiting. The girl was told to put her sweatshirt over her head so that she couldn’t see the assailants. As Dunn assaulted the girl, her father heard the noises and went downstairs to investigate.

The first attacker left the house, and the father discovered Dunn. The father was able to restrain Dunn as the girl and her mother called the police. The police arrested Dunn.

The father told the police that Dunn repeatedly stated he came to the house with Marty Hatton. Dunn, who police determined was highly intoxicated, was questioned. Dunn told police he accompanied Hatton to the house, and Hatton forced him to have sex with the teen. The police indicated in a report that Dunn’s statements weren’t credible.

Police went to Hatton’s residence, where he voluntarily gave them the clothes he said he was wearing the night of the attack. The clothes didn’t include a sweatshirt, which Dunn said Hatton was wearing. The police later discovered the sweatshirt in a closet and took it. Hatton provided blood samples. He also agreed to appear in a line-up. The girl didn’t identify him as the attacker.

DNA Evidence Disputed at Trial
Hatton was charged with five felony counts, including rape. At his trial, the Pickaway County Prosecutor’s Office presented the testimony of Dunn, who admitted to his role in the crime and implicated Hatton, even describing the sweatshirt he was wearing. The girl’s father testified to what Dunn stated when he was detained. An expert witness testifying about the forensic evidence indicated the state was unable to scientifically connect Hatton to the crime.

Raman Tejwani, a police crime lab employee, was the prosecution’s DNA expert witness and tested the blood samples from the girl, Dunn, and Hatton. At the trial, Tejwani testified that the samples taken from the girl’s underwear and body indicated that she had sex with more than one person. The expert also stated the results were “inconclusive.” When questioned on the stand, Tejwani indicated that she could “neither include nor exclude anybody” based on the samples.

Hatton’s expert witness testified that the blood samples had the presence of a “B” gene, and noted that neither Hatton nor Dunn, nor the victim have B genes in their blood samples. Hatton’s expert maintained that another person with a “B” gene had to be the second rapist. However, during the trial, the prosecutor emphasized that Tejwani indicated the samples didn’t exclude anyone, including Hatton. The prosecutor argued that while the DNA couldn’t prove the identity of the other rapist, the overwhelming evidence proves Hatton committed the crime.

The jury convicted Hatton, and he was sentenced to 39 years in prison.

Memo Generated, Discovered Decades Later
After Hatton unsuccessfully attempted to appeal his conviction, he hired a lawyer to petition for postconviction relief. That attorney contacted Tejwani, and asked for a meeting. Tejwani asked the prosecutor if she was permitted to speak to Hatton’s lawyer. The prosecutor indicated she was. Tejwani wrote a memo to the prosecutor after speaking to the attorney, recapping the conversation.

The memo indicated the attorney asked about the B gene. The memo stated, “This type was not observed in the known blood samples” of the girl, Hatton, or Dunn. The memo wasn’t provided to Hatton’s attorney, and Hatton’s attorney indicated that Tejwani did not make that statement when they spoke. Rather she repeated what she stated at the trial, which was that the samples were “inconclusive.”

Hatton’s 1998 postconviction petition was rejected, as were several other petitions and appeals over the next two decades. In 2018, he learned of the Tejwani memo through a public records request. He had also learned years earlier that Dunn had recanted his testimony and declared that he never indicated that Hatton was the other man at the house. Dunn, who served 21 years in prison, provided the name of another man he claimed led the attack.

Based on the newly discovered memo, Hatton sought a new trial, arguing the DNA results, coupled with Dunn’s revised story, destroys the prosecution’s case. The trial court denied his postconviction relief request. Hatton appealed to the Fourth District Court of Appeals, which affirmed the trial court’s decision.

Hatton appealed to the Supreme Court of Ohio, which agreed to hear the case.

All Other Evidence Irrelevant if DNA Excludes Suspect, Offender Argues
Tejwani’s testimony that the DNA samples were inconclusive was false based on the contents of her memo, Hatton argues. The presence of a B gene, which Hatton lacks, excludes him from being a contributor to the DNA found on the girl. That evidence conclusively proves someone else other than him was the second rapist, he maintains. The trial court considering his petition concluded that at Hatton’s 1997 trial, all the experts indicated the DNA results were inconclusive. Hatton argues that isn’t correct, and that his experts both at trial and on appeal maintained that while it is true the evidence was “inconclusive” as to who was the contributor, they also testified that it excluded Hatton.

The prosecutor may not have known what Tejwani was trying to convey when testifying during the trial, but the memo later clarified for the state that she meant she couldn’t determine who the assailants were, but could exclude Hatton, he states. Once the prosecutor had that information, the office was obligated to turn that over to Hatton, he asserts. He argues he was denied his rights to a fair trial based on how the results were presented in court and the prosecution’s knowledge that the expert witness’ memo contradicted the prosecution’s theory of the case.

Memo Not New Information, Prosecutor Maintains
The memo may be a new description of the testimony in Hatton’s trial, but the information in the memo isn’t new, the prosecutor maintains. The trial and appeals court have repeatedly denied Hatton a new trial, indicating the arguments about the content of the DNA samples have been raised numerous times. The prosecutor asserts that Hatton mischaracterizes the memo, and the prosecutor argues that it doesn’t exonerate Hatton.

The prosecutor maintains that the DNA evidence was inconclusive and wasn’t the reason Hatton was convicted of the crime. The office asserts all the other evidence, including witnesses who saw Hatton and Dunn that night, as well as the girl’s father, who heard Dunn screaming for “Marty” led to the conviction. The office maintains that Dunn’s change of story years later is suspicious, and no new evidence entitles Hatton to a new trial.

Dan Trevas

Docket entries, memoranda, briefs (including amicus briefs), and other information about this case may be accessed through the case docket.

Representing Martin Hatton: John Gonzales, 614.643.5050

Representing the State of Ohio from the Pickaway County Prosecutor’s Office: Jayme Fountain, 740.474.6066

Return to top

Must Parent Request Dismissal of Case When Juvenile Court Misses Hearing Deadline?

In re K.K. et al., Case Nos. 2021-0822 and 2021-0857
Twelfth District Court of Appeals (Butler County)


  • Does R.C. 2151.35(B)(1) – which gives a juvenile court 90 days to hold certain hearings – require a motion claiming the court failed to meet the 90-day timeframe before the case can be dismissed?
  • After a juvenile court determines permanent custody, can a parent argue on appeal that the court missed the 90-day deadline in R.C. 2151.35(B)(1) if the parent didn’t raise the argument with the juvenile court?

Michael Kyle Jr. and Angela Thomas are the parents of two children – one born in January 2017, who is identified as K.K. in court records, and another born in December 2018. Thomas also has an older child.

In October 2018, Butler County Children Services filed two complaints in the Butler County Juvenile Court about the care of K.K. and Thomas’ older child. In December of that year, the children services agency filed a similar complaint against Thomas and Kyle regarding their newborn. The children were placed together in a foster care home.

The juvenile court held a dispositional hearing in March 2019 on the first two complaints. The parents agreed that the two older children were neglected and dependent. The parents contested the allegations in the third complaint, but they didn’t appear for the first juvenile court hearing regarding the youngest child. The court held a dispositional hearing about the youngest in June 2019. The parents indicate in their briefs that they didn’t have attorneys for the hearings.

The agency later requested permanent custody of the children. In October 2020, the juvenile court magistrate agreed, determining it was in the children’s best interest to terminate the rights of their parents. Kyle and Thomas objected to the termination of their rights, but the court adopted the magistrate’s decisions.

Kyle and Thomas appealed to the Twelfth District Court of Appeals, which reversed the juvenile court in May 2021. The Twelfth District found that the juvenile court was mandated by R.C. 2151.35(B)(1) to dismiss the complaints against the parents because it failed to conduct the dispositional hearings within 90 days after the complaints were filed.

The agency appealed to the Supreme Court of Ohio, which accepted the case. The Supreme Court also agreed to review a conflict between the Twelfth District’s ruling and the Fourth District Court of Appeals November 2020 decision in In re L.S.

State Law Sets Deadline for Juvenile Court Hearing
R.C. 2151.35(B)(1) sets timelines in juvenile court hearings considering abuse, neglect, or dependency allegations. At the time of the issues in this case, the law stated:

“… The dispositional hearing shall not be held more than ninety days after the date on which the complaint in the case was filed.

“If the dispositional hearing is not held within the period of time required by this division, the court, on its own motion or the motion of any party or the guardian ad litem of the child, shall dismiss the complaint without prejudice.”

Parents Didn’t Take Proper Steps for Court to Dismiss Case, Children Services Contends
In In re K.M. (2020), the Supreme Court ruled the statute imposes a mandatory deadline requiring dismissal of the case when a juvenile court fails to conduct a dispositional hearing within 90 days of the filing of the complaint. The law allows a children services agency to re-file the complaint.

Although the Butler County agency acknowledges the deadline is mandatory, it notes the parents in K.M. filed a motion asking the juvenile court to dismiss the case. The agency argues that Kyle and Thomas, however, didn’t file a request for dismissal and didn’t object to the court’s order in the dispositional hearing. The agency contends that a dismissal for violating the 90-day time limit only happens if a motion is filed, and none was filed in the case involving Kyle and Thomas.

If the parents had made motions for dismissal at the March 2019 or June 2019 hearings, then the juvenile court was obligated to dismiss the cases and the agency would decide whether to re-file the complaints, it argues. “But the parents sat on their hands,” the agency’s brief asserts.

The agency states that the children have been given stability and can now be adopted by a foster family. But the Twelfth District has “sacrificed the rights of the children” to protect the parents’ rights, the agency maintains.

“The Twelfth District's decision violates the very purpose of the juvenile court system: the care and protection of children,” the agency concludes.

Juvenile Courts Must Dismiss Cases When Hearings Aren’t Held in 90 Days, Parents Assert
Thomas argues that parents aren’t obligated to file a motion requesting dismissal when the court misses the 90-day deadline. The statute allows the court, any party, or the guardian ad litem also to make a motion. And the law clearly states that the court “shall” dismiss the case if the deadline isn’t met, Thomas notes. She argues the law places a duty on the court to dismiss a complaint if the dispositional hearing isn’t held within 90 days.

She adds that K.M. explained that the 90-day mandatory timeframe limits the juvenile court’s authority once it misses the deadline. In a separate brief, Kyle agrees, maintaining that, after 90 days passed, the juvenile court lost its authority to issue an order to terminate their rights as parents. That mandatory timeframe cannot be waived when parents don’t make a motion for dismissal at the hearings, Kyle indicates.

Thomas recognizes that juvenile courts exist to protect children and do what is in their best interests.

“However, the statutes are also designed to protect the rights of children and their families from unnecessary intrusion by the state absent requisite proof that it is necessary to protect children,” her brief contends.

Thomas has waived her participation in oral argument, submitting her positions through her brief and based on the case record.

Briefs Back Arguments of Children Services Agency
An amicus curiae brief supporting Butler County Children Services was jointly submitted by the Ohio Prosecuting Attorneys Association and Cuyahoga County Division of Children and Family Services. The Legal Aid Society of Southwest Ohio filed an amicus brief also supporting the agency’s positions.

Kathleen Maloney

Docket entries, memoranda, briefs (including amicus briefs), and other information about this case may be accessed through the case docket. (Also 2021-0857.)

Representing Butler County Children Services from the Butler County Prosecutor’s Office: John Greer, 513.887.3474

Representing Angela Thomas: Jeannine Barbeau, 513.721.2157

Representing Michael Kyle Jr.: Dawn Garrett, 937.433.2744

These informal previews are prepared by the Supreme Court’s Office of Public Information to provide the news media and other interested persons with a brief overview of the legal issues and arguments advanced by the parties in upcoming cases scheduled for oral argument. The previews aren’t part of the case record, and aren’t considered by the Court during its deliberations.

Return to top