While there are several big cases waiting down the road in DC, this week did not see any of them; the biggest was the Court's decision not to review a challenge by an American Indian group to the Washington Redskins mascot.
Down in Columbus, four decisions of consequence (to me, anyway), though none of them earthshaking. In Mynes v. Brooks, the court holds that an order granting or denying arbitration is immediately appealable, even when there are other parties in the case not subject to the arbitration provision, and even when there's no 54(B) language in the journal entry. In State Farm v. Grace, the court holds that the 2001 amendment to Ohio's uninsured motorists law allows insurance companies to exclude from UM claims any money paid under the medical payments coverage; three Supreme Court decisions prior to the amendment had forbidden the practice.
State v. Robinson involved an assault in which the defendant had smashed the victim's cell phone while the latter was trying to call the police. He was charged and convicted of disrupting public services under RC 2909.04, but the 4th District reversed, concluding that the statute prohibited only "substantial" interference with public emergency systems, not the destruction of a single phone. Other courts had concluded to the contrary, and the Supreme Court unanimously sides with them and reinstates Robinson's conviction.
A spirit of togetherness also imbued the court's decision in State v. McCausland. The case involved a drunk driving charge tried to the bench, and at the conclusion of the the evidence, the judge summarized the testimony in detail and -- there's a surprise -- found McCausland guilty. McCausland appealed, arguing that his attorney had been denied the right to present closing argument. There's some good case law out there holding that closing argument is a vital aspect of the constitutional right to present a defense, and denial of it is error, but none of that case law holds that the right can't be waived. The Supreme Court, as did the 12th District, concludes that the attorney did just that by not asking for closing, or objecting to the judge's proceeding to a decision.
Last, State v. Crager rears its head again. In Crager, the court had allowed one lab analyst to testify to the DNA results obtained by another, finding that laboratory tests didn't fall under Crawford. The US Supreme Court decided the latter question to the contrary last summer in Melendez-Diaz v. Massachusetts, and two months ago the Ohio Supreme Court vacated its decision in Crager and remanded the case to the trial court for determination of how or whether Melendez-Diaz applied to the particular facts of the case. At the time, I questioned the sense of that, arguing that the court itself should make that determination, since it presented solely a question of law. No doubt chastened by my stinging rebuke, the court reversed itself, last week granting a motion for reconsideration and ordering the parties to brief that issue.
In the courts of appeals...
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