Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Lawlessness in the 12th District

Useful reminder from the 12th District a couple of weeks ago (and thanks to Dan Startsman from the Clermont County Public Defender's office for pointing it out) that the law is what the courts say it is rather than what it's supposed to be.

In State v. Tranovich, the Court of Appeals for Butler County concluded that the manifest weight of the evidence didn't support Tranovich's conviction for wrongful entrustment. Accordingly, and without discussion but citing its own unreported decision from 1993 in City of Mason v. Reid, the court reversed and discharged the defendant. But that ain't what the law is supposed to allow.

A reversal based on insufficient evidence is an aquittal, and double jeopardy requires that he defendant be discharged. A reversal based on the manifest weight of the evidence is not. So said the Supreme Court of Ohio in 1997 in State v. Thompkins.

In State v. Storch, the Ohio Supreme Court said tha
t "the 'lesser' courts of Ohio ignore our words at their peril as to questions of state law." Tranovich, then, serves as a useful reminder (at least, it does unless it's appealed and reversed), that those lesser courts sometimes feel free to do just that.

Moral: It's better to win than to be right.

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