Ohio Law

News and Announcements from the Supreme Court of Ohio and Other Governmental Entities Within the Buckeye State.

Friday, December 17, 2004

I'm Back...

...from the CLE program. My brain is totally fried. If you've ever had to talk for 1.5 or 2 hours straight, you know I feel right now. Nothing new to report on any new election challenge petitions. However, outgoing Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder's recent election to the post of Perry County Auditor has been called into doubt by Democrat William Crane. Crane alleges that the number of voters exceeded the number of people who signed voting books in at least 11 of 46 precincts in the county and that 359 votes were cast by people whose signatures were never verified. Householder had won the contest by 277 votes. Some of you may remember it was Householder who had on his staff the person who pled guilty to being the famed "Naked Photographer."


More Election Info

Here's the docket info from 12/16 concerning the Moss v. Bush case:

Upon review, the petition improperly combines two election contests in one petition. Accordingly, the contest related to Nov. 2, 2004 presidential election is dismissed without prejudice. Chief Justice Thomas J. Moyer, in chambers.
Upon review, the petition improperly combines two election contests in one petition. Accordingly, the contest related to Nov. 2, 2004 election for office of Chief Justice is dismissed without prejudice. Justice Maureen O'Connor, in chambers.
Motion for emergency hearing and expedited relief to prevent spoliation of evidence and to preserve documentary and electronic evidence Filed by: Rev. Bill Moss et al.
12/16/04: Denied as moot. Chief Justice Thomas J. Moyer, in chambers.

I have another CLE class to teach this morning, so if anything else (like re-filing) happens, I'll check this afternoon and report at that time.


Thursday, December 16, 2004

Election Contest Petitions Dismissed

From Gongwer News Service:

Chief Justice Thomas Moyer today dismissed on procedural grounds a petition activists filed challenging results of the presidential election in Ohio. Justice Maureen O'Connor dismissed on the same grounds a petition contesting the election of Mr. Moyer. Contesters had included both challenges in the same petition. Both were dismissed "without prejudice," meaning they could be filed again in different form.

Here is the link to Chief Justice Moyer's ruling:


Here is part of what he said:

{¶ 7} As Chief Justice, I have statutory authority to determine only thechallenge filed by the contestors to the election of President and Vice-President.No statute or case law authorizes the filing of multiple election contests in a singlecase. The complaint is fatally defective. I therefore order that the contest of thepresidential election held on November 2, 2004, be dismissed without prejudice.
So ordered.


"Indecency" Bill With Library Filtering Language Killed


Contained this language:
...to prohibit public libraries from using state money or money from a county library and local government support fund for Internet access purposes unless they install specified types of filtering devices or filtering software and require parental approval for a juvenile to borrow library video materials; to allow a public library or its personnel to disable the filtering devices or software to enable a person to have full access to a computer for specified proper purposes; and to make funding of any public library with state money or money from a county library and local government support fund contingent upon its compliance with the filter, notice, and parental approval requirements as to use of prior state money or money from the fund.

From Gongwer News Service:

"The House on Wednesday rejected legislation that would have all but required the state's public libraries to install Internet filtering measures on public computers, killing the proposal for the remainder of the session. The library filtering plan is likely to be introduced again next year."

Me: The filtering language would have been added at ORC Secs. 3375.351 and 3375.352. The House rejected the Senate Amendments to HB 132 by a count of 76-0.

One other note: HB 1, the Campaign Finance Bill, was substantially amended by the House and sent to the Senate late last night. Final action on the bill is expected today. There was no link to the amended text, just the bill as introduced.


Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Federal Judge Rules That Punch Card Ballots are OK

U.S. District Judge David D. Dowd Jr. stated that, "[a]ll voters in a county, regardless of race, use the same voting system to cast a ballot, and no one is denied the opportunity to cast a valid vote because of their race."

Here is the link to the Northern District of Ohio web page that has posted a link to the decision:



Maryland Anti-Spam Law Overturned

This news has been going around the blogosphere today. Here is a link to a PDF of the decision offered by the Baltimore Sun:



Chief Wahoo Decision

Another decision handed down today by the Supreme Court of Ohio today dealt with the burning of Chief Wahoo in effigy on Opening Day, 1998. Here is the info:

[Cite as Bellecourt v. Cleveland, ___ Ohio St.3d ___, 2004-Ohio-6551.]
Civil rights – Section 1982, Title 42, U.S.Code – Right to free speech not violated
by arrest after burning effigy where municipality’s interest in preserving
public safety is implicated.
(No. 2003-1202 — Submitted May 26, 2004 — Decided December 15, 2004.)
APPEAL from the Court of Appeals for Cuyahoga County, No. 80193, 152 Ohio
App.3d 687, 2003-Ohio-2468.

In a 5-2 decision authored by Justice Maureen O'Connor, it was held that:

"Under the facts before us, we determine that the arrests were narrowly tailored
to Cleveland’s asserted interest in preserving public safety.... and any incidental
limitation on appellees’ First Amendment freedoms was justified. Accordingly,
Cleveland is not liable to appellees pursuant to Section 1983, Title 42, U.S.Code." (See para. 13 of the majority opinion)


More Supreme Court of Ohio Decisions Released

By my count, there are 34 new opinions on the Reporter of Decisions web page.
One that is garnering particular interest is:

[Cite as Cleveland Bar Assn. v. CompManagement, Inc., ___ Ohio St.3d ___,

Here is the syllabus:

Nonlawyers who appear and practice in a representative capacity before the
Industrial Commission and the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation in
conformity to Industrial Commission Resolution No. R04-1-01 are not
engaged in the unauthorized practice of law.

Justice Resnick authored the majority opinion (5-2) in which Chief Justice Moyer and Justices Lundberg Stratton, O'Connor, and O'Donnell (concurring in the judgment only) concurred. Justice Sweeney dissented, and Justice Pfeifer dissented with about a 1-page opinion.


Google and Libraries

By now, those of you who are interested in all things library have heard of Google's ambitious plan for digitizing the collections of five major libraries. If you are interested in learning more, follow this link to Edison Ellenberger's E-LawLibrary Weblog for further info.


What About Fair Use?

This has nothing to do with Ohio law, but begs for commentary nonetheless. The Washington Post reports on a program in which a consultant goes into schools and teaches them of the ills associated with illegal downloading. The article's title: 'Pirates of the Internet' Is New Class Lesson. You may have to be registered with the Post to read the article, so here are the "highlights":
  • "These kids are in la la land," according to the consultant who uses a 5-foot tall robot named "Safety Bot" to teach elementary school students the evils of downloading copyrighted materials.
  • "You may think you're anonymous, but you're not. You may think it's legal, but it's not. And you may think you're not hurting anyone, but you are." - Rich Taylor, a spokesman for the Motion Picture Association of America
  • Taylor again: "What we're trying to do is get it back to 'Stealing is wrong.' " This program was given at a school named St. Bernadette's. From what I remember of my Catholic grade school days, they already have a handle on the concept of 'stealing is wrong' without some recording industry flack, part of an industry with a history of payoffs, back-stabbing, and shabby treatment of artists, going on about it.
  • Both the MPAA and RIAA have been working with schools and private educators to figure out how to communicate online ethics in a way young people can understand. This is too much. We're now letting our children get ethics lectures from Hollywood.
  • Helping the industries get their agenda to the schools is Street Law, a high school legal textbook company based in Silver Spring, MD. They and others are working to develop a training program with the U.S. attorney's office. The program would pair teachers with lawyers to teach the real-life implications of taking copyrighted materials online. Deborah Foster, Street Law's senior program director, stated that the brainwashing was going to be "a long and complicated effort." Of course, as a seller of textbooks to schools, that would be her goal.
  • Again from Foster: "Kids are very savvy, especially around intellectual property," she said. "They may not be able to define 'intellectual property' and explain what that means. But deep down, they do know downloading music and movies is wrong. For some reason, they just choose to do it anyway."
  • If you're going to teach kids about intellectual property in the 4th grade, at least offer a user's perspective. My second-grader barely knows his math facts because of the dumbed-down, test-driven curriculum that serves as a "math program," but he will sure know that making a copy of a song, even one he may be legally entitled to make, will end up with him being pursued by the Thought Police of the RIAA and MPAA.
I apologize for this major digression, but this WP article was a bit much. Doesn't the school where this program took place have a K-12 Librarian that could offer a counterpoint with some info on fair use, government publications, etc.?


Tuesday, December 14, 2004

The "Silly" Season Begins

From the Columbus Dispatch:

"This is the season of merriment, not the silly season," Ohio Republican Party Chairman Robert T. Bennett said yesterday after the expected challenge to the Ohio election results for President was filed.The filing asks the Supreme Court of Ohio to overturn the election of both President Bush and Ohio Supreme Court Chief Justice Thomas J. Moyer on the ground that election fraud kept Kerry from winning the state and Democrat C. Ellen Connally from being elected to the state’s high court.

Critics of the election results have based their allegations on mostly respected exit polls in Ohio and other battleground states that showed Kerry beating Bush — and that other Election Day problems were part of a "pattern of vote fraud and discrimination."

The petition was filed by attorneys for former Columbus Board of Education member Bill Moss and 39 other central Ohio residents. Here are the particulars:

Case no.: 04-2055
Caption: Moss et al. v. Bush et al.
Date Filed: December 13, 2004
Petitioner's attorneys: Clifford Arnebeck, Robert Fitrakis, Susan Truitt, and Peter Peckarsky (pro hac vice motion pending)
Respondent's attorneys: N/A
Documents filed: 1) petition to contest election in accordance with Ohio Revised Code 3515.08; 2) Election contest bond of $20,000; 3) motion for temporary restraining order, preliminary injunction, and other relief; and 4) the aforementioned pro hac vice motion

That's it for now.

Monday, December 13, 2004

Electoral College Votes / Challenge Filed

From the Columbus Dispatch:

The Ohio delegation to the Electoral College chose President Bush on Monday as the election winner amid a challenge of the November results filed hours earlier and a recount to start this week.

The 20 GOP electors voted unanimously for Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney, following the same process Ohio electors have used for 200 years. The delegation members were signing forms to make their votes official.

Challengers of the state's presidential election results asked the Ohio Supreme Court earlier Monday to review the outcome.

They question whether Bush won the key swing state by 119,000 votes, guaranteeing his victory over Democrat John Kerry.

The Rev. Jesse Jackson and attorney Cliff Arnebeck of the Massachusetts-based Alliance for Democracy -- backers of the court request -- accused Bush's campaign of "high-tech vote stealing."

From the Associated Press via MSNBC:

Carlo LoParo, spokesman for Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell, defended the election results. For the challengers’ accusations to be true, he said, officials in both parties would have had to conspire to throw the election.

“That’s simply a ridiculous assertion,” he said.


Ohio Election Challenge?

The word on the street is that there will be some type of petition filed soon with the Supreme Court of Ohio. Stay tuned.