Here’s my list of the top ten decisions handed down by the Supreme Court of Ohio in 2014 that I’ve blogged about. I don’t blog on all cases argued, so this list is totally subjective.
1. Bank of Am., N.A. v. Kuchta, 2014-Ohio-4275.
In a 5-2 decision, the court held that a challenge to standing in a foreclosure action cannot be raised in post judgment proceedings; lack of standing is cognizable on appeal, and therefore cannot be used to collaterally attack a judgment in foreclosure; and lack of standing does not affect the subject matter jurisdiction of the common pleas court. This case is one of several following upon the court’s merit decision in Fed. Home Loan Mortg. Corp. v. Schwartzwald, 2012-Ohio-5017. Read an analysis of the merit decision in Kuchta here.
2. State v. Herring, 2014-Ohio-5228.
In a 4-3 decision, the court held that a defendant is deprived of effective assistance of counsel in a death penalty case when trial counsel fail to ensure that a proper mitigation investigation is completed and presented. Read the analysis of the merit decision here.
3. State v. Long, 2014-Ohio-849.
The justices unanimously agreed that a trial court must consider youth as a mitigating factor in imposing a sentence of life without parole on a juvenile offender, and has considerable discretion in the weight the factor of youth deserves, but split 5-2 on whether the trial court actually and properly did consider the youth factor in this case. Read the analysis of the merit decision here.
4. Daniel v. Daniel, 2014-Ohio-1161.
In a 4-3 decision, the court held that unvested military retirement benefits earned during a marriage are marital assets subject to division in a divorce or dissolution. Read the analysis of the merit decision here.
5. Auer v. Paliath, 2014-Ohio-3632.
In a 5-2 decision the court held that the question of the vicarious liability of a real estate broker for the intentional misconduct of an agent is one of fact, not law. Read the analysis of the merit decision here.
6. In re A.G., 2014-Ohio-2597.
In a 5-2 decision the court held that in ongoing child-custody litigation arising from a divorce, a child is not a proper party, and has no due process right to attend contested visitation proceedings, but does have an interest in the action. In such proceedings, the court has the discretion to exclude the child if, under the totality of the circumstances, exclusion is in that child’s best interest. Read the analysis of the merit decision here.
7. State v. Hoffman, 2014-Ohio-4795.
In a 6-1 decision the court held that the arrest warrants in this case were invalid because they were issued without a determination of probable cause, but suppression of the evidence was not required in the case because the police officers relied in good faith on existing appellate precedent which had approved now-disavowed procedures used in the Toledo Municipal Court. Read the analysis of the merit decision here. This is one of several cases in which the court used the good-faith exception to prevent exclusion of evidence. State v. Johnson, Slip Opinion No. 2014-Ohio-5021, also decided in 2014, used the good-faith exception to save evidence seized from a warrantless GPS placement on a car, now impermissible since United States v. Jones. Read about the Johnson case here.
8. Cedar Fair, L.P. v. Falfas, 2014-Ohio-3943.
In a unanimous decision, the court held that specific performance is not an available remedy for breach of an employment contract unless it is explicitly provided for in the contract or by an applicable statute. Read the analysis of the merit decision here.
9. Transtar Elec., Inc. v. A.E.M. Elec. Servs. Corp.,2014-Ohio-3095.
In a 5-2 decision, the court held that a contract for work performed by a subcontractor for a general contractor, which contains a provision that payment by the project owner to the general contractor is a condition precedent to payment by the general contractor to the sub, is a pay-if-paid provision. Such a provision clearly and unequivocally shows the intent of the parties to transfer the risk of the owner’s nonpayment from the general contractor to the subcontractor. Read the analysis of the merit decision here.
10. Schill v. Cincinnati Ins. Co., 2014-Ohio-4527.
In a unanimous decision, the court held that domicile means the place where a person resides, intends to remain, and to return when away temporarily. In the context of this dispute over insurance coverage in a wrongful death case, the decision meant no umbrella coverage for the widow of the deceased. Read an analysis of the merit decision here.