Ohio juvenile law issues & cases

The Ohio Supreme Court decided two juvenile offender issues this past week.

The first instance, State v. Long, Case 2012-1410 (Slip Opinion) 2014-Ohio-849 on March 12th., evolved from a joint jury trial in which defendant Eric Long and two adult codefendants were found guilty of aggravated murder, felonious assault, and multiple firearms charges following separate shootings in a Cincinnati neighborhood and on Interstate 75 north of the city, the Court’s summary states. All three were sentenced to consecutive terms of life imprisonment without parole for the two aggravated murders, with Long receiving an additional 19 years on the remaining charges. He was 17 years at the time.

Appealing his conviction, Long argued in the First District that the trial court did not specifically consider his youth as a mitigating factor and that life without parole for a teenager was cruel and unusual punishment. The appellate court upheld the trial court’s decision. (Opinion here)

The Supreme Court, last Wednesday, reversed & remanded the case back to the trial court for resentencing, concluding in pertinence, “…The United States Supreme Court has indicated inRoper v. Simmons, 543 U.S. 551, 125 S.Ct. 1183, 161 L.Ed.2d 1 (2005), Graham v. Florida, 560 U.S. 48, 130 S.Ct. 2011, 176 L.Ed.2d 825 (2010),and Miller v. Alabama, 567 U.S. ___, 132 S. Ct. 2455, 183 L.Ed.2d 407 (2012)  that juveniles who commit criminal offenses are not as culpable for their acts as adults are and are more amenable to reform. We agreed with this sentiment in In re C.P., 131 Ohio St.3d 513, 2012-Ohio-1446, 967 N.E.2d 729. Miller did not go so far as to bar courts from imposing the sentence of life without the possibility of parole on a juvenile. Yet because of the severity of that penalty, and because youth and its attendant circumstances are strong mitigating factors, that sentence should rarely be imposed on juveniles. Miller, 567 U.S. ___, 132 S. Ct. at 2469, 183 L.Ed.2d 407. In this case, the trial court must consider Long’s youth as mitigating before determining whether aggravating factors outweigh it.” (See Court News Ohio for additional information)

The second case, In re H.V., Case 2012-1688 (Slip Opinion) 2014-Ohio-812, delivered the following day, March 13th., ran the route of starting back in December 2010, the Court’s summary recalls, when the Lorain County Juvenile Court found a juvenile identified as  H.V. to be delinquent of attempted domestic violence, a fourth-degree felony if committed by an adult. The court committed H.V. to the Ohio Department of Youth Services (ODYS) for a minimum period of six months, and put on supervised release.

“Six months after being released, the then 16-year-old was charged with felonious assault and not adhering to the conditions of his supervised release. The juvenile court revoked H.V.’s supervised release and committed him to ODYS for a minimum period of 90 days, then finding H.V. delinquent of felonious assault, in this case a second-degree felony if committed by an adult, and imposing a one-year term for the assault, to be served consecutively to the 90-day term… H.V. appealed to the Ninth District, which here again agreed with the trial court. (9th. District's holding)

In approaching the Supreme Court, H.V. argued the Revised Code does not authorize a juvenile court to commit a delinquent juvenile to the ODYS for a specific minimum period for a violation of supervised release, and that R.C. 5139.52(F) authorizes the juvenile court to return a delinquent juvenile to the ODYS but does not authorize the court to determine the length of the commitment, suggesting that following a revocation of supervised release, only the ODYS has the authority to impose a new period of incarceration beyond 30 days.

The Court disagreed, stating R.C. 5139.52(F) clearly authorizes juvenile courts to return juveniles who have committed serious violations of the terms of their supervised release to the ODYS for a minimum period of 30 days

“This provision,” the Court said, “clearly means that the ODYS is prohibited from releasing a returning violator for 30 days. The statute speaks only to the minimum period of institutionalization. It clearly vests the ODYS with the authority to increase the judge’s original sentence—presumably for juveniles who simply cannot be rehabilitated within that time—but there is no indication in this section that the juvenile court is limited in the amount of time that it may impose under this provision. Nothing in the statute, or common sense, supports the proposition that the judge is limited to ordering a maximum 30-day commitment to the ODYS. Our reading of the statute is further supported by the final clause that specifically prohibits the granting of judicial release or early release “during the minimum thirty-day period of institutionalization or any period of institutionalization in excess of the minimum thirty-day period.” (Emphasis added.) R.C. 5139.52(F).”

In conclusion, affirming the judgment of the Ninth District Court of Appeals, the Court “held that the juvenile court did not abuse its discretion when it ordered  H.V.  to  serve  a  minimum  90-day  term  for  a  serious  violation  of supervised release.  This order was made in accordance with the plain language of R.C.  5139.52(F).   We  also  hold  that  it  was  not  an  abuse  of  discretion  for  the juvenile  court  to  order  the  term  of  commitment  imposed  for  the  supervised-release violation to be served consecutively to the term of commitment imposed for  the  underlying  offense  and  that  this  order  was  made  in  accordance  with  the plain language of R.C. 2152.19(A)(8) and2152.01(A).”