Ohio Law

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

Friday, January 07, 2005

Ohio Election Challenge Slapped Down

After the challenge to the Ohio election results was given authenticity due to the somewhat misguided efforts of California Senator Barbara Boxer, the chambers took up the issue. The Senate voted down the objection 74-1, the House likewise by a count of 267-31.

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Reference to Bible Not a Cause for Reversal

A judge who referred to a passage from the Bible when sentencing a defendant who had pled guilty in Hamilton County common pleas court in 1997 to charges of rape and pandering obscenity involving a minor did not violate that defendant's right of due process.

In looking back at the history of the case, a state appeals court had vacated the sentence, but a unanimous Ohio Supreme Court reversed that judgment. The Justices had concluded the judge's Biblical reference did not violate the defendant's right to due process because it was not the basis of the sentencing determination, but rather one of several reasons relied upon. The defendant found help within the federal system when U.S. District Judge Arthur Spiegel in Cincinnati found use of the Bible as a final source of authority constituted an impermissible factor for sentencing. However, a United States 6th Circuit panel yesterday voted 2-1 to overturn the lower federal court.

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Tort Reform Bill Signed By Governor

Governor Taft signed SB80, Ohio's latest attempt at tort reform. The new law will limit the amount of money juries may award for pain and suffering and other non-economic damages, limits punitive damages, allows disclosure to juries of some other sources of compensation for plaintiffs, and sets a time limit for filing suits over faulty products and construction services. In addtion to the latter, Taft also signed HB498, passed in a purported effort to offset previous Ohio Supreme Court rulings that allowed injured workers to sue employers for damages on top of workers' compensation benefits. The measure requires an employee in such a lawsuit to prove an employer acted with intent to injure, or in the belief that an injury was substantially certain to occur.

In other news, the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals rejected Toledo businesses' argument that a no-smoking ordinance was an unconstitutional regulatory taking of their property. Also turned down was their claim that the ordinance was preempted by a state law that regulates smoking in places of public assembly, but that does not apply to restaurants, bowling alleys and bars.

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Thursday, January 06, 2005

Boxer Joins Tubbs Jones' Objection to Ohio Results

California Senator Barbara Boxer has sent a letter to Ohio Representative Stephanie Tubbs Jones stating that she would object to the Ohio electoral votes at a joint session of Congress scheduled to begin at 1pm today. The saga continues.

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Federal Spyware Bill Reintroduced

On the first day of the 109th Congress, Congresswoman Mary Bono (CA-45) re-introduced her bill to protect computer users against internet privacy invasion. H.R. 29, the Securely Protect Yourself Against Cyber Trespass Act (SPY ACT), was passed by a huge margin in the House last October, but did not get out of the Senate in time. It is expected to fly through both the House and Senate this session. Here's the press release.

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Meddlesome Redux

From Yahoo News: Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) has offered a 102-page report titled "Preserving Democracy: What Went Wrong in Ohio?" It lists such problems as unusually long lines, a shortage of voting machines in Democratic-leaning areas, confusion over provisional ballot rules and computer problems. What, no complaints over the exit polls? Read the entire story at the link above. In other news, some dead horses were reportedly still being beaten.

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Can Books Survive?

An article from Technology Review was brought to my attention today. (thanks to the Distant Librarian) It concerns the future of books in the digital age and is from more of a general rather than law library perspective. The cite is 108(1) Technology Review 60 (Jan 2005). For those with access to Academic Search Premier (OhioLINK possibly), a PDF version can be obtained (4 pages).

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Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Current Business News

I was looking through some of my feeds via Bloglines, my newsfeed aggreagtor of choice, when I discovered that I am one of the few subscribers to business journals for Columbus, Cincinnati, and Dayton. The website where these journals originate from is bizjournals. The RSS feed page is located right here. If you go the latter page you will discover that there are a number of cities offered as well as industry-specific feeds. The three cities I mentioned above are the only ones from Ohio, but that doesn't mean the other ones listed couldn't prove useful. Enjoy.

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Utah Anti-Spam Law Does Not Apply to Pop-Ups

A decision handed down by a Utah Appeals Court made it clear that the state's anti-spam law applied to e-mail and not pop-ups. In Riddle v. Celebrity Cruises, it was held that pop-ups fell outside the scope of Utah's Unsolicited Commercial and Sexually Explicit E-Mail Act.

I particularly liked this reasoning:

Moreover, if the pop-up ad sent to Riddle's computer could somehow be viewed as an e-mail, it likely would be regarded as a solicited e-mail--given that Riddle chose to surf the Internet and, apparently, to visit the Los Angeles Times website looking for travel information--and thus would fall outside the scope of the Act.

So anytime you surf the Internet in Utah, you are agreeing to the delivery of pop-ups. I guess it makes sense, in a roundabout kind of way. We should all be glad that we have pop-up blockers now. NOTE: The Utah Act was repealed on May 3, 2004.

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Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Free Library Resources in Ohio

In case you don't read LLRX, here is an article that appeared recently:

http://www.llrx.com/columns/metaforix9.htm

It chronicles some of the freely-available items and databases offered via OhioLINK and some public libraries in the state. This is something I've been introducing within every CLE presentation I've ever given over the past 7-8 years. OhioLINK and OPLIN are two of the greatest informational resources the state of Ohio has to offer, and even semi-serious researchers should know about them and use them. Two things that bugged me about the article: The Ohio Public Library Information Network was not mentioned at all within it, and the author seemed really hooked on a page that the State Library of Ohio has a link to, State and Local Government on the Net. The latter is what the Piper Resources page morphed into a few years ago, and while a good resource, is nothing that any other library couldn't link to as well. That being said, the article is a good advertisement for what college and other public libraries in the state have accomplished over the past decade or so and does offer links to resources other than the State and Local Government on the Net page.

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Ohio Lawyers Weekly Kaput

The Ohio Lawyers Weekly has advised it has ceased publication with the December 27, 2004 issue. I noticed that this morning when checking their web site, and my memory was jogged by a mailing list posting from Akron Law Librarian Beth Langton (Buckingham, Doolittle & Burroughs, LLP). The publisher has advised it will continue biweekly delivery of the national paper, Lawyers Weekly USA, in fulfillment of subscriptions. However, Beth spoke to a rep this morning and was told that Lawyers Weekly USA will include very little Ohio-related news items and case alerts. The rep also said partial refunds would be given for subscribers who do not wish to continue the subscription for Lawyers Weekly USA.

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Tax Forms

As the cliche goes: "The Taxman Cometh."

The Ohio Department of Taxation's Forms Page also offers links to other states' forms pages, municipal forms, and IRS forms.

Winter Storm and Tax Filings

Ohio Tax Commissioner William W. Wilkins stated that Department of Taxation (ODT) agents will be making allowances for business taxpayers that file returns on line but couldn’t because of power outages. Most of those taxpayers had sales tax returns due on December 23rd, the day the snow and ice storm hit many areas in Ohio.

Wilkins says if taxpayers couldn’t file because the electricity was out, ODT agents will waive late-filing penalties and still allow discounts for timely filing. Taxpayers will still be responsible for paying any interest due on late payments. Wilkins added that, if they haven’t already, taxpayers should file their returns and taxes as soon as they can.

Here's the link to the press release.

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Who Will Rid Us of this Meddlesome Election?

More news from the state capital: The Rev. Jesse Jackson, U.S. Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones, and Dagmar Celeste were making speeches at a "Demand Democracy" rally at the Capitol Theater in support of allegations of wrongdoing in the presidential election held last November. Amid shouts of "count every vote," partisan snipings between Rep. Jones and Ohio Secretary of State Thomas Blackwell (not present, but attacked nonetheless) held center stage. Rep. Jones intends to file an objection in the U.S. House to the award of Ohio's 20 electoral votes to George W. Bush. She also needs a Senator to file a similar objection, but thus far that help has not materialized. Dagmar Celeste called George Bush "sick" and "in need of compassion." Susan Truitt, one of the attorneys representing the contestors of the election, termed the election a "deliberate, stealthy stealing of our democracy." Ohio Republican Party Chairman Robert Bennett commented that the election challenge had moved from "nuisance to absurdity." In the meantime, a petition was filed by President Bush and Vice President Cheney asking for a dismissal of the petition.

Wow.

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Monday, January 03, 2005

Anti-Spyware Law

The latest from California just took effect:

Consumer Protection Against Computer Spyware Act

Take a look at the "Legislative Counsel's Digest" for what the bill purports to accomplish. Ohio needs some type of similar legislation.

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I'm baaaaack.....

Wow - what a last 10 or so days its been. What with the holidays, serious snow and ice storms, and now incessant rain, I haven't been able to get anything done, let alone blog. I even took my laptop home thinking I would be able to keep up. Ha. I'm getting back in the saddle today and should start regular postings tomorrow. Until then...

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