Ohio Supreme Court Reverses Itself-Allows Transfer of Juveniles to Adult Court

Yesterday, the Ohio Supreme Court ruled that transferring older juveniles to adult court when they commit serious offenses does not violate their constitutional rights. If you're confused, it's natural. This was a reversal of the Court's December 2016 decision.

The case involved 16 year old Matthew Aalim. In 2013, Aalim was arrested for armed robbery in Montgomery County. Aalim was sent to adult court. He petitioned to be moved back to juvenile court but the request was denied. Aalim took a plea and was sentenced to two four year concurrent terms. The second district upheld the transfer, and Aalim appealed to the Supreme Court.

In the December 2016 decision, the court ruled that, "The mandatory transfer of juveniles to the general division of common pleas court violates juveniles’ right to due process as guaranteed by Article I, Section 16 of the Ohio Constitution." Justice Judith Lanzinger, who wrote the decision, retired shortly thereafter, and the Montgomery County Prosecutor's Office asked for reconsideration.

In yesterday's decision, authored by Justice Sharon Kennedy, the court found, "This court has the authority to grant motions for reconsideration filed under S.Ct.Prac.R. 18.02 in order to “correct decisions which, upon reflection, are deemed to have been made in error.” State ex rel. Huebner v. W. Jefferson Village Council, 75 Ohio St.3d 381, 383, 662 N.E.2d 339 (1995). In seeking reconsideration of this court’s decision in State v. Aalim, __ Ohio St.3d __, 2016- Ohio-8278, __ N.E.3d __ (“Aalim I”), the state argues that the court failed to consider Article IV, Section 4(B) of the Ohio Constitution, which grants the General Assembly exclusive authority to define the jurisdiction of the courts of common pleas. We agree... Having granted reconsideration, we turn to the original questions presented and determine that the mandatory bindover of certain juveniles to adult court under R.C. 2152.10(A)(2)(b) and 2152.12(A)(1)(b) does not violate the Due Course of Law Clause or the Equal Protection Clause of the Ohio Constitution and the analogous provisions of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. "

For more information, check out Court News Ohio analysis here.