Ohio Supreme Court juvenile/adult determination case heard

Along with our earlier post on Ohio juvenile cases before the Supreme court, the Cleveland Plain Dealer yesterday carried newsof a third case involving a 16-year-old referred to as “D.M.”, who was charged with an act that would constitute aggravated robbery if he were an adult, with the law requiring the case be moved to adult court once probable cause was shown to support the charge.( Court's docket )

The Plain Dealer’s article recounts that while in the process of proceedings that would would’ve enabled that determination to be made, D.M.’s attorney petitioned for materials from prosecutors and was refused.

D.M.’s attorney then sought and won a dismissal of the charge, which prosecutors appealed to the Ohio First District Court of Appeals. That decision overturned,  D.M.’s lawyer brought the case before the Supreme Court, which heard arguments last Wednesday. March 12th..

Arguments focused on which standards should be used to determine which materials must be provided in discovery, with D.M.’s attorney maintaining “This Court has held that a mandatory bind-over hearing is a "`critically important' stage in juvenile proceedings. Therefore, such a hearing must `measure up to the essentials of due process and fair treatment."' State v. Iacona, 93 Ohio St.3d 83, 91, 2001-Ohio-1292, 752 N.E.2d 957, quoting Kent v. United States, 383 U.S. 541, 562, 86 S.Ct. 1045, 16 L.Ed.2d 84 (1966). Receiving full and fair discovery is essential, especially when only a single hearing determines whether a child is tried as a juvenile or as an adult. Yet, the First District expressly extended its decision below to probable cause hearings in both mandatory and discretionary bind-over cases

“… as evidenced by the fact that both the Eighth and Sixth District Courts of Appeals have addressed similar issues, this case also is of great public and general interest, as questions concerning juveniles' rights to discovery are relevant throughout the State of Ohio. See In re A.M, 139 Ohio App.3d 303, 743 N.E.2d 937 (8th Dist. 2000); State v. Gilbert, 6th Dist. No. L-03-1273, 2005-Ohio-2350. Moreover, the First District has restricted discovery in bind-over matters much more than the Eighth and Sixth Districts. While perhaps not stark enough to certify a conflict, the First District's departure from the Eighth and Sixth Districts is enough to lead to substantially different treatment of children in different districts…”