Last week I posted my top ten cases of 2013. Here’s a different list (we all do love lists, don’t we?)—the top ten most often viewed posts in 2013, in order:
1. The merit decision in Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corp. v. Schwartzwald, 2012-Ohio-5017. The Court held that standing must be determined at the time the complaint is filed. Since Freddie Mac did not own the note and mortgage at the time it filed a foreclosure action against the Schwartzwalds, it lacked standing to bring the action. A follow-up issue to this case, whether lack of standing can be raised in a foreclosure action after judgment if no appeal was taken, is being argued tomorrow, January 8, 2014. Foreclosure-related issues continue to dominate blog readers’ interest.
2. The murder case of Dr. Margo Prade. Dr. Prade’s husband, former Akron police captain Douglas Prade, was convicted of his wife’s murder and sentenced to life in prison. Prade always maintained his innocence. In 2010, the Supreme Court of Ohio paved the way for a second DNA test for Prade. In October of 2012, after the new test was completed, Summit County Common Pleas Court Judge Judy Hunter heard four days of expert testimony on the meaning and outcome of the new DNA test results. Ultimately, she concluded that based on all the evidence available, Prade was actually innocent of his wife’s murder. Judge Hunter ordered Prade released from prison on January 29, 2013. My colleagues at the Ohio Innocence Project were instrumental in the outcome of this case.
3. The finding that mortgage servicers are not covered under the Ohio Consumer Sales Practices Act. The issue was first considered in State of Ohio ex rel. Michael DeWine, Attorney General of Ohio, et al. v. GMAC Mortgage, LLC, et al. # 2011-0890, which was stayed because of GMAC bankruptcy proceedings. The Court then decided the issue in the companion case of Anderson v. Barclay’s Capital Real Estate, Inc., 2013-Ohio-1933 .
4. The merit decision in State v. Gould, 2012-Ohio-71, in which the Court held that a warrant was not needed to search a computer hard drive when the computer had been abandoned.
5. The battered woman’s syndrome defense, and in particular, the case of State v. Goff, 2010-Ohio-6317, in which the Court held that an order compelling a defendant who had killed her husband, and relied on the battered woman syndrome self-defense, to submit to a psychiatric examination conducted by a state expert did not violate the defendant’s rights against self-incrimination. But the Court also held this examination must be limited to information related to the battered-woman syndrome, and was not properly limited in the case.
6. The merit decision in Liming v. Damos, 2012-Ohio-4783. The Court held that a purge hearing to impose a suspended sentence for failure to pay child support is a civil proceeding, and due process does not require the appointment of counsel for an indigent parent at the civil contempt purge hearing.
7. The merit decision in Anderson v. Massillon, 2012-Ohio-5711. The Court defined the terms “willful,” “wanton,” and “reckless,” and held that these terms are not interchangeable.
8. The merit decision in In Re M.W., 2012-Ohio-4538. The Court held that a juvenile has no statutory right to a lawyer during police questioning before court proceedings have begun.
9. The merit decision in D.W. v. T.L., 2012-Ohio-5743. The Court held that under its existing precedent, the test in a name change case is the best interest of the child, which in this case was to keep the mother’s name. The father had tried to have the child’s last name changed to his, and had succeeded at the lower court levels. In reversing those rulings, the Court cautioned that gender-based stereotypes cannot be the basis for ordering a name change. One of my former students, Ginger Bock, won this case for the mother at the Supreme Court level.
10. A totally technical one. The merit decision in Schwering v. TRW Vehicle Safety Systems, Inc., 2012-Ohio-1481, in which the Court held that a plaintiff may not voluntarily dismiss a claim without prejudice pursuant to Civ.R. 41(A)(1)(a) when a trial court declares a mistrial after the jury has been empaneled and sworn and the trial has begun.
Ok enough lists! On to the new year’s cases.