Ohio Supreme Court decides on topics ranging from Amazon to Kanye West


By Laura Hancock - Advance Ohio Media, Cleveland



COLUMBUS, Ohio — The Ohio Supreme Court ruled on dozens of cases in 2020, both criminal and civil, with some having a wide-ranging impact. Here are some of its most high-profile, by subject area.

Workplace and business:

• The court ruled on Oct. 1 that Amazon was not liable for the 2014 death of Logan Stiner, a Lorain County teen who overdosed on caffeine powder promoted by and purchased on its site.

• In a 4-3 decision on Aug. 26, the court determined that workers cannot sue their employer for invasion of privacy when they provide drug test samples while being watched urinating.

• On Nov. 5, the court ruled that the state can collect business income taxes on behalf of municipalities in a centralized system, but cannot charge the cities an administrative cost to do so.

Education:

• The Supreme Court decided Nov. 5 that the public and media won’t get to look at the school disciplinary records of Connor Betts, the gunman in the 2019 shooting in Dayton’s Oregon district who was shot and killed by police, because the records are protected under student privacy law.

• The court decided Aug. 26 to allow the Madison Local School District in Butler County to implement its firearm policy for trained personnel, Susan Tebben wrote for the Ohio Capital Journal, while the case continues in the Supreme Court. Oral arguments are scheduled for Jan. 12.

• In a split May 13 decision, the court upheld a controversial 2015 law allowing the state to temporarily take over leadership of struggling schools in Youngstown, Lorain and East Cleveland.

• On April 14, the court accepted a case from the now-defunct Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow, which wants to appeal a previous order requiring it to refund the state tens of millions of dollars it was accused of improperly taking. The court scheduled oral arguments for March 2.

The election:

• The court allowed Gov. Mike DeWine to close polling places and extend the March 17 primary election, due to concerns about the coronavirus spreading.

• On Sept. 10, the court unanimously denied Kanye West’s request to get on the presidential ballot, deciding that Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose was justified in rejecting the hip hop artist’s petition signatures.

Traffic and crime:

• In the latest red light and traffic camera case from Toledo, the court unanimously ruled June 24 that the city cannot have a police hearing officer consider appeals of speeding violations caught on camera, because the legislature gave municipal courts exclusive authority over the matters.

• On July 2, the court ruled that judges don’t have to consider a defendant’s ability to pay court costs — which occurs with everyone convicted of a crime — because the state law, which allows judges to “waive, suspend, or modify” the expenses, doesn’t specify the criteria for judges to use when doing so.

• On June 10, the court ruled 6-1 that laser and radar devices can be admitted into court for speeding cases, without a witness testifying to the technology’s scientific principles, but the weight a judge or jury gives them can change, depending on qualifications of the officer, whether the device was maintained and other factors.

• The court threw out on Feb. 27 Glen Bates’ 2015 death row sentence on Feb. 27 for killing his 2-year-old daughter, Glenara, and ordered a new trial because his lawyer failed to remove a racially biased juror, the Enquirer’s Bob Strickley reported.

• The court unanimously ruled Oct. 9 that Rogers Henderson should be immediately released from prison because prosecutors waited too long to correct a Cuyahoga County judge’s error of 18 years in prison, when it should have been 18 years-to-life for the murder of Lester Bryant.

• Justices ruled in a 6-1 decision March 25 that Cleveland doesn’t have to pay a $13.2 million jury verdict against two cops who framed David Ayers, a former housing security officer, for murder, since the plaintiffs can’t force government to pay out civil judgments on behalf of employees.

• On Nov. 19, the court agreed to put on hold the May 2022 execution of Willie G. Wilks so he can appeal his conviction and death sentence in the 2013 murder of Ororo Wilkins and wounding of Alexander Morales Jr.

• The court ruled Nov. 24 that the Jefferson County Prosecutor’s Office must release video showing the shooting of Jefferson County Common Pleas Court Judge Joseph J. Bruzzese Jr. by Nate Richmond near the courthouse entrance. Bruzzese and a probation officer returned fire, killing Richmond, who had a matter in the judge’s court.

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By Laura Hancock

Advance Ohio Media, Cleveland

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