Office of the Ohio Public Defender Office of the Ohio Public Defender
 
 

| Home |About Us | Divisions | Reimbursement | OPD Resources | Internet Links | Press | County PD's |

Franklin County Criminal Law Casebook
Reproduced with permission from
Allen V. Adair and the Franklin County Public Defender Office

INDIGENCY (016)

Also see Appeal and Appellate Review; Counsel, Right to; Public Defenders and Appointed Counsel.

 

Right to appointed counsel

Right to transcripts

Funds for investigation, expert witnesses and related matters

Indigency as related to sentencing

Imprisonment for debt

Proof of indigency; Costs assessment; In forma pauperis rules

 

Criminal Rule 44 -- Assignment of counsel.

Chapter 120, Ohio Revised Code -- Public Defenders.

Right to appointed counsel

State v. Williams, 173 Ohio App. 3d 556, 2007-Ohio-5672 – Defendant appeared for trial unrepresented and said he had not qualified for representation by a public defender. The judge had him sign a form filled in to indicate he waived his right to counsel because he could not afford to hire an attorney. Reversed. The court was obliged to fully inquire into the circumstances impinging upon a defendant‘s inability to secure counsel and the consequent need to provide appointed counsel. State v. Tymcio (1975), 42 Ohio St. 2d 39, followed.

Jackson v. Wickline, 153 Ohio App. 3d 743, 2003-Ohio-4354 -- After initially appointing counsel, court determined the defendant was ineligible based on his W-2. (1) Redetermination of indigency required a full inquiry into the circumstances and the defendant's ability to retain counsel. (2) Before proceeding to trial, the court was required to obtain a waiver of counsel on the record.

Brook Park v. Kirsch (2000), 138 Ohio App. 3d 741 -- (1) Simply ascertaining that a retiree received $1600 per month was not enough to justify denying his request for appointed counsel. The court was obliged to inquire as to outstanding debts, obligations and liabilities as required by O.A.C. 120-1-03. (2) Court was required to obtain a recorded, oral waiver of the right to counsel. Written waiver was insufficient and failure to record proceedings does not permit conclusion Criminal Rules 22 and 44 were complied with.

State v. Campbell (1999), 132 Ohio App. 3d 880, 886 -- According to the concurring opinion: "While the record suggests that at least the trial court had previously made some preliminary determination of indigency sufficient to refer appellant to the public defender's office, the court may not abdicate its responsibility for a full inquiry by a simple referral. And furthermore, when a defendant appears at the next hearing without counsel, the court may not simply rely on its prior referral as a discharge of this duty to afford counsel. Many factors, other than simple indigency, may impinge upon a defendant's inability to obtain counsel, factors that may differ greatly from cases to case."

Lager v. Pittman (2000), 140 Ohio App. 3d 227 -- County public defender brought prohibition action to prevent enforcement of a municipal court judge's order that his office undertake indigency determination at the time of the initial appearance. Writ granted, because Chapter 120 gives the public defender discretion as to when this determination is made, and this takes precedence over a court order or local rule. But if the public defender elects to delay the determination, he is obliged to provide provisional representation, and may ultimately be subject to a court order or contempt in the event of unjustified delay.

In re Kindred, Licking App. No. 04 CA 7, 2004-Ohio-3647. ¶29 (Concurring opinion.) -- "I concur with the majority as to disposition of this case. I write separately only to make explicit what I find to be implicit in the majority's analysis. If non-indigent parents of a child refuse to provide counsel for that child and that child wants to be represented by counsel, that child is indigent and the court must appoint counsel. Any waiver of counsel by such child must be done with clear knowledge of what counsel can do for the child as well as the fact that counsel will be provided at no cost to the child."

Gideon v. Wainwright (1963), 372 U.S. 335 -- The right of an indigent defendant in a criminal case to have the assistance of counsel is a fundamental right guaranteed by the Sixth and Fourteenth Amendments.

Argersinger v. Hamlin (1972), 407 U.S. 25 -- An indigent's right to appointed counsel does not turn on whether the offense charged is a felony or a misdemeanor. Counsel must be furnished if the accused faces the loss of liberty.

Douglas v. California (1963), 372 U.S. 353 -- Indigent has a right to appointed counsel for direct appeal of conviction in state courts.

Ross v. Moffitt (1974), 417 U.S. 600 -- Right to appointed counsel does not extent to discretionary appeal to state supreme court. Also see Wainwright v. Torna (1982), 455 U.S. 586.

State v. Tymcio (1975), 42 Ohio St. 2d 39 -- Syllabus: "(1) The right of court-appointed counsel in a criminal case turns upon the inability to obtain counsel. The entitlement depends not upon whether the accused ought to be able to employ counsel, but whether he is in fact 'unable to employ counsel.' (2) A preliminary determination of indigency does not foreclose a redetermination of eligibility for assigned counsel when, at a subsequent stage of a criminal proceeding, new information concerning the ability or inability of the accused to obtain counsel becomes available. (3) It is the duty of the trial court in a criminal case to inquire fully into the circumstances impinging upon an accused's claimed inability to obtain counsel and his consequent need for assistance in employing counsel, or for the assistance of court-appointed counsel." Also see State v. Caulley (1999), 132 Ohio App. 3d 705.

State, ex rel. Butler, v. Demis (1981), 66 Ohio St. 2d 121 -- Syllabus: "R.C. 120.33(B) does not impose a clear legal duty upon a judge to appoint as counsel of record the attorney personally selected by an indigent party."

State v. Weaver (1988), 38 Ohio St. 3d 160 -- Syllabus: "The determination by an appellate court pursuant to R.C. 120.05 that a person is not indigent and thus not entitled to legal representation by the state public defender on appeal will not be reversed absent an abuse of discretion.

State v. Crowder (1991), 60 Ohio St. 3d 151 -- Paragraph one of the syllabus: "Although an indigent petitioner does not have a state or federal constitutional right to representation by an attorney in a post conviction proceeding, the petitioner, pursuant to R.C. 120.16(A)(1) and (D), is entitled to representation by a public defender at such a proceeding if the public defender concludes that the issues raised by the petitioner have arguable merit."

State v. Barnes (1982), 7 Ohio App. 3d 83 -- Appointment of counsel is not required for the initial preparation of a petition for post conviction relief, however, if a hearing is required counsel must be appointed.

State, ex rel. McMinn, v. Ohio Public Defender (1985), 26 Ohio App. 3d 16 -- Mandamus does not lie to compel the Ohio Public Defender to provide representation in a post conviction action where, pursuant to R.C. 120.06(B), the public defender has determined that the case lacks arguable merit.

Lassiter v. Dept. of Social Services (1981), 452 U.S. 18 -- Due process does not require the appointment of counsel for an indigent in every proceeding to terminate parental rights. The presumption that an indigent has a right to appointed counsel applies only when the loss of physical liberty is at stake. In other situations, the private and governmental interests at stake and the risk of an erroneous decision must be weighed.

State ex rel. Asberry v. Payne (1998) 82 Ohio St. 44 -- Maternal grandmother petitioning a juvenile court for custody had the right to have counsel appointed to represent her pursuant to Chapter 120 of the Revised Code. R.C. 2151.353 entitles all indigent parties in juvenile proceedings to appointed counsel, and this is not limited by reference in R.C. 120.06 to representation in prosecutions which could result in the loss of liberty. Also see McKinney v. McClure (1995), 102 Ohio App. 3d 165.

Schock v. Sheppard (1982), 7 Ohio App. 3d 45 -- A party facing contempt for non-payment of child support, if faced with imprisonment, has the right to appointed counsel if indigent. Lassiter v. Dept. of Social Services (1981), 452 U.S. 18, applied. Compare Courtney v. Courtney (1984), 16 Ohio App. 3d 329; In re Calhoun (1976), 47 Ohio St. 2d 15.

Return to top of page

Right to transcripts

State v. Treesh 90 Ohio St. 3d 460, 467-478, 2001-Ohio-4 -- There is no per se right to daily transcripts in a capital trial.

Griffin v. Illinois (1956), 351 U.S. 12 -- Indigents are entitled, at public expense, to transcripts, portions of the record or alternative materials necessary to appeal. Also see Draper v. Washington (1963), 372 U.S. 487; Mayer v. Chicago (1971), 404 U.S. 189.

State v. Arrington (1975), 42 Ohio St. 2d 114 -- From the syllabus: "(1) In a criminal case, the state must provide an indigent defendant with a transcript of prior proceedings when that transcript is needed for an effective defense or appeal. (Britt v. North Carolina 414 U.S. 226, followed.) (2) The burden is on the state to show that a transcript of prior proceedings requested by an indigent defendant is not needed for an effective defense or appeal. (4) Ordinarily it is assumed that a transcript of a preliminary hearing would be valuable to a defendant without requiring a showing of need tailored to the facts of the particular case." Also see State, ex rel. Partee, v. McMahon (1963), 175 Ohio St. 243.

State, ex rel. Heller, v. Miller (1980), 61 Ohio St. 2d 6 -- Paragraph two of the syllabus: "In actions instituted by the state to force the permanent involuntary termination of parental rights, the United States and Ohio Constitutions' guarantees of due process and equal protection of the law require that indigent parents be provided with counsel and a transcript at public expense for appeals as of right."

State, ex rel. Serish, v. Warren (1982), 3 Ohio App. 3d 448 -- Headnote: "In a criminal case involving charges brought under municipal ordinances, an indigent defendant must be provided with a transcript of proceedings when that transcript is needed for an effective defense or appeal." Also see State v. Duncan (1976), 45 Ohio St. 2d 134.

State, ex rel. Murr, v. Thierry (1987), 34 Ohio St. 3d 45 -- If an indigent has been furnished one copy of a transcript, he is not entitled to a second, here for the preparation of a post conviction action. Also see State ex rel. Call v. Zimmers (1999), 85 Ohio St. 3d 367.

State v. Peterson (1976), 46 Ohio St. 2d 425 -- Syllabus: "A pretrial motion by an indigent criminal defendant for a free transcript of a co-defendant's prior trial is properly overruled, where the defendant has made no showing that such transcript is necessary to an adequate defense, or where available alternative devices will provide substantially the same information, and serve substantially the same function as the requested transcript."

State v. Thacker (1978), 54 Ohio St. 2d 43 -- Conviction reversed where trial judge overruled motion for transcript of portions of first trial, though the motion was not opposed by the prosecutor.

M.L.B. v. S.L.J. (1996), 519 U.S. 102 -- Mother was unable to prepay cost of transcript needed for appeal in termination of parental rights action. Held to be a violation of equal protection and due process.

Columbus v. Link (1998), 127 Ohio App. 3d 122 -- Defendant's claim trial court erred in refusing to furnish a free transcript barred by res judicata, as appeals court itself had twice denied motions seeking a transcript at state's expense.

Return to top of page

Funds for investigation, expert witnesses and related matters

State v. Bradley, 181 Ohio App. 3d 40, 2009-Ohio-460 – Defendant was denied due process when the court refused to authorize funds for an expert on eyewitness ID. Case turned on ID by the victim, who had been assaulted during the brief time needed to complete a robbery. There was little or no corroborating evidence. Trial court‘s mistaken reliance on a local rule was not harmless. Jury deadlocked twice during deliberations.

State v. Torres, 174 Ohio App. 3d 168, 2007-Ohio-6651 – In a capital case counsel were discharged when they refused to participate in the trial, which the court had refused to stay. They later reentered the case pro bono. Though the court had authorized payment of fees to experts and investigators, it denied or cut back on payment apparently based on the fact counsel were acting pro bono. Reversed. It was arbitrary and unreasonable to make these determinations without conducting a hearing.

State v. Sargent, 169 Ohio App. 3d 679, 2006-Ohio-6823, ¶13 -- In was an abuse of discretion not to appoint an eyewitness identification expert where the case entirely rested on the testimony of the victim who was under the stress of having been robbed at gunpoint. However, there was no error in the denial of a motion to suppress identification.

State v. Whitfield, 167 Ohio App. 3d 211, 2006-Ohio-3044 -- Appointed counsel retained a private investigator to assist in a capital case that pled out. Court approved only $7,500 of the $15,497 billed, citing a nonexistent cap. Investigator retained counsel and appealed under the homicide case number. Noting that even full payment after counsels' and a psychiatrist's billings were paid would have remained under a local rule's $75,000 cap, concluded that the trial court abused its discretion limiting fee without a hearing on the reasonableness of the amount billed.

Ake v. Oklahoma (1985), 470 U.S. 68 -- When the defendant has made a preliminary showing that his sanity at the time of the offense is likely to be a significant factor at trial, the state is required to afford the access to a psychiatrist's assistance if the defendant cannot other afford such assistance in the preparation of his defense.

State v. Mason (1998), 82 Ohio St. 3d 144 -- Syllabus: "Due process, as guaranteed by the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution and Section 16, Article I of the Ohio Constitution, requires than an indigent criminal defendant be provided funds to obtain expert assistance at state expense only where the trial court finds, in the exercise of sound discretion, that the defendant has made a particularized showing (1) of a reasonable probability that the requested expert would aid in his defense, and (2) that denial of the requested expert assistance would result in an unfair trial. (State v. Broom [1988], 40 Ohio St. 3d 2777...approved and followed.)"

State v. McLaughlin (1988), 55 Ohio App. 3d 141 -- A trial court has not abused its discretion by refusing to allocate funds for hiring a defense expert where the defendant has failed to demonstrate the need for such assistance.

United States v. One Feather (8th Cir. 1983), 702 F. 2d 736, 738 -- "The defendant has the burden of satisfying the court that expert services are necessary to present an adequate defense...Expert services need not be authorized for a 'fishing expedition,' but should be authorized 'when underlying facts reasonably suggest that further exploration may prove beneficial to the accused in the development of a defense to the charge.'"

In re Egbert Children (1994), 99 Ohio App. 3d 492, 495 -- $300 fee limitation cannot be found a due process violation without evidence that it was insufficient to retain a competent psychiatrist.

State v. Peeples (1994), 94 Ohio App. 3d 34, 39 -- "Construing Ake and Caldwell together, we hold that a defendant must show more than a mere possibility of assistance from an expert. A defendant must show a reasonable probability that an expert would aid in his defense, and that the denial or expert assistance would result in an unfair trial." Court further finds ex parte hearing on request for funds was not shown to be necessary in this case.

In re Shaeffer Children (1993), 85 Ohio App. 3d 683 -- Where a parent's mental health is a the predominant issue in permanent commitment proceedings, an indigent parent is entitled to the assistance of a court compensated psychiatric expert under the due process provisions of the state and federal constitutions.

Return to top of page

Indigency as related to sentencing

Eighth Amendment, U.S. Constitution: "Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted."

State v. Dearing, Lucas App. No. L-02-1050 -- Defendant stole his grandmother's car on the way home from prison and tried to rob a bank the following day. Order that he pay costs of confinement and an unspecified amount of restitution was without proper consideration of his ability to pay.

State v. Slater, Scioto App. No. 01CA2806, 2002-Ohio-5343 -- A sentencing court is under a mandatory duty to consider the defendant's ability to pay a fine or the costs of confinement in a county operated facility. This does not always require a hearing. Since the duty is mandatory, the issue is not waived by the defendant's failure to object.

State v. White, 103 Ohio St. 3d 580, 2004-Ohio-5989 -- Syllabus: "(1) A trial court may assess court costs against an indigent defendant convicted of a felony as a part of the sentence. (2) A clerk of courts may attempt the collection of court costs assessed against an indigent defendant." ¶8 While costs must be assessed against all convicted defendants, they may be waived. The clerk may attempt to collect costs from a prisoner's account, but there are other options, such as collection at a future date.

State v. Clark, Pickaway App. No. 02CA12, 2002-Ohio-6684, ¶21 -- "Costs should not be assessed against a defendant previously determined to be indigent unless the court determines that the defendant's financial status has changed." This was the conflict case in State v. White and may have limited viability. Also see State v. Schofield, Washington App. Nos. 01CA36 and 01CA13; State v. Durand, Pickaway App. No. 03CA15. Compare State v. Roux, 154 Ohio App. 3d 296, 2003-Ohio-4876; State v. Peacock, Lake App. No. 2002-L-115, 2003-Ohio-6772; State v. May, Ashtabula App. No. 2001-A-0037, 2003-Ohio-6979; and State v. Barlow, Montgomery App. No. 19628, 2003-Ohio-6530 finding costs may be assessed, though indigency may prevent collection.

State v. Threatt, 108 Ohio St. 3d 277, 2006-Ohio-905 -- Syllabus: "(1) When collecting court costs from an indigent criminal defendant, the state may use any collection method that is available to collect a civil money judgment or may use R.C. 5120.133 to collect from a prisoner's account. (2) A motion by an indigent criminal defendant for waiver of payment of costs must be made at the time of sentencing. (3) A sentencing entry is a final appealable order. (4) A court's denial of an indigent criminal defendant's motion for waiver of payment of costs is reviewable under an abuse of discretion standard." The exact amount of costs need not be stated in the entry. The time to contest is not deferred until there has been an attempt to collect.

State v. Cooper (2001), 144 Ohio App. 3d 316 -- Defendant's failure to submit an affidavit of indigency waived right to have ability to pay fine considered by the trial court, and error in this regard on appeal.

State v. Perkins, 154 Ohio App. 3d 631, 2003-Ohio-5092 -- Court erred by locking defendant up for failure to pay fines and costs without first conducting a hearing on ability to pay.

State v. Pasqualone (2000), 140 Ohio App. 3d 650 -- Denial of a motion to vacate court costs on the basis of indigency is not a final appealable order. Even if it were, res judicata would ban consideration of any claim which could have been raised in an appeal from the initial judgment.

Tate v. Short (1971), 401 U.S. 395 -- It is a denial of equal protection to impose only a fine for those who are able to pay it, but to convert the fine to imprisonment for those who are not. Also see Williams v. Illinois (1970), 399 U.S. 235; Morris v. Schoonfield (1970), 399 U.S. 508.

State v. Kleve (1981), 2 Ohio App. 3d 407 -- Where the record fails to show a knowing, intelligent and voluntary waiver of counsel, an unrepresented petty offender may not be sentenced to a period of confinement. Also see State v. Haag (1976), 49 Ohio App. 2d 268.

State v. Jackson (1986), 30 Ohio App. 3d 149, 152 -- While R.C. 2929.14(C) forbids the imposition of a fine which would cause undue hardship, the provision does not prevent a court from assessing court costs against an indigent.

State v. Smith (1991), 75 Ohio App. 3d 73 -- A court may not impose a fine that exceeds the amount the offender will be able to pay within a reasonable period of time. Former R.C. 2929.14(C) applied. Also see State v. Slider (1980), 70 Ohio App. 2d 283; State v. Samuels (April 11, 1978), Franklin Co. App. No. 77AP-923, unreported (1978 Opinions 868).

State v. McLean (1993), 87 Ohio App. 3d 392 -- Reimbursement of the costs of appointed counsel may be made a condition of probation. Compare State v. Shelton (1989), 63 Ohio App. 3d 137 reaching the opposite conclusion. Also see Fuller v. Oregon (1974), 417 U.S. 40; State v. Watkins (1994), 96 Ohio App. 3d 195; State v. Trembly (2000), 137 Ohio App. 3d 134, 144 (assessed as a fine).

State v. Horton (1993), 85 Ohio App. 3d 268 -- While the filing of an affidavit of indigency for purposes of securing the appointment of counsel by itself does not mean that a defendant is indigent for purposes of paying a fine, in such circumstances the court should conduct a hearing on the issue of indigency.

State v. Stevens (1992), 78 Ohio App. 3d 847 -- When the court has knowledge that the defendant is indigent, it is an abuse of discretion to order a fine without undertaking an inquiry into employment or ability to pay.

State v. Johnson (1995), 107 Ohio App. 3d 723 -- Court was not required to conduct a hearing on the defendant's ability to pay a fine until the time he faced incarceration for failure to pay. A hearing would be required under 2947.14 at that time.

State v. Gipson (1998), 80 Ohio St. 3d 626 -- (1) Syllabus: "The requirement of former R.C. 2925.11(E)(5) (and the current analogous provisions of R.C. 2929.18[B][1]) that an affidavit of indigency must be 'filed' with the court prior to sentencing means that the affidavit must be delivered to the clerk of court for purposes of filing and must be indorsed by the clerk of court, i.e., time-stamped, prior to the filing of the journal entry reflecting the trial court's sentencing decision." (2) At 634-636: Though defendant may have lacked the present ability to pay the mandatory fine attached to a drug offense, he was able-bodied and given probation, allowed the duration of probation to pay the fine, and was given the alternative of satisfying the fine through community service. Court acted within its discretion in imposing fine. Also see State v. Reitz (1991), 74 Ohio App. 3d 33.

State v. Martin (1996), 112 Ohio App. 3d 225, 228 -- With respect to a mandatory fine for a drug offense: "...(T)he trial court erred in failing to determine, in some manner reflected by the record, whether appellant was indigent when he properly filed an affidavit of indigency pursuant to R.C. 2925.03(L)."

State v. Pendleton (1995), 104 Ohio App. 3d 785 -- Court disapproves policy of finding those represented by public defenders indigent for purposes of mandatory drug fines while finding those represented by private counsel to be able to pay. Evidence of indigency was unrebutted. Private counsel fees were paid by relative. Mere possibility that the defendant might be able to pay the fine in the future, or in installments, is not a sufficient basis for finding ability to pay.

State v. Gutierrez (1994), 95 Ohio App. 3d 414 -- (1) Court erred in imposing mandatory drug offense fine where the defendant earned $8 per hour prior to sentencing, had other expenses to pay, and was ordered incarcerated. (2) Court refused to allow defendant to file an affidavit of indigency. Even assuming this was error, it was harmless as the court proceeded to consider indigency as if the affidavit had been filed.

State v. Mays (1994), 97 Ohio App. 3d 406 -- Affidavit of indigency relating to inability to pay mandatory drug offense fines was not filed until three months after sentencing. At that point the decision whether or not to consider waiver of the fine was within the court's discretion and no abuse of discretion is found in denial of motion seeking exemption.

State v. Lefever (1993), 91 Ohio App. 3d 301, 309-310 -- (1) While a person may not be indigent for purposes of payment of mandatory drug offense fine if he has potential earnings in the future, the lack of present means and the immediate prospect of five years or more of incarceration required finding of indigency. (2) When the evidence clearly establishes that money for bail was provided a person other than the defendant, the court shall not apply any of the money to be returned towards the satisfaction of a penalty or fine. Discussion of the history of the case indicates efforts to require that the funds be deposited in the defendant's name.

State v. Powell (1992), 78 Ohio App. 3d 784, 790 -- "...(T)he payment of a mandatory fine over a period of time is not equivalent to the immediate need for legal representation at the initiation of criminal proceedings."

Bearden v. Georgia (1983), 461 U.S. 660 -- Probation may not be revoked solely because the defendant was unable to pay fine or restitution and without consideration of alternative means of punishment. Also see State v. Scott (1982), 6 Ohio App. 3d 39; State v. Crawford (1977), 54 Ohio App. 2d 86.

State v. Woods (1982), 7 Ohio App. 3d 81 -- Headnote states: "Revocation of probation for failure to pay costs and make restitution does not constitute a denial of equal protection to a person claiming to be indigent, who has not sustained her burden of presenting evidence indicating she has made a good-faith effort within the limits of her ability to comply with the terms of her probation order."

State v. Bosstic (1984), 16 Ohio App. 3d 438 -- "Before a person may be imprisoned for failure to pay a fine, the court must determine whether the failure to pay is due to indigency or mere neglect."

Karr v. Blay (N.D. Ohio 1976), 413 F. Supp. 579, 586 -- Ordered: "...confinement of an indigent for failure to make immediate total payment of a fine violates that person's right to Equal Protection...and that it is the duty of every judge to determine that a fine or fines, in the aggregate and to the extent not suspended by the court, does not exceed an amount which said defendant is or will be able to pay..."

Return to top of page

Imprisonment for debt

State v. Keylor, Monroe App. No. 02 MO 12, 2003-Ohio-3491 -- Judgment entry pertaining to county court clerk who embezzled $105,000 stated judicial release would not be considered until monetary sanctions were paid. These also included $19,000 in fines. Statement was gratuitous but did not arise to error. Determination of ability to pay sanctions would have been premature. Failure to object to the amount of the fine at the sentencing hearing said to waive cruel and unusual punishment claim.

State v. Myers, Hardin App. Nos. 6-03-02, and 03 -- Jailing for contempt upon nonpayment of court costs is imprisonment for debt. Fines were paid. The duty to pay costs is a civil obligation. Imprisonment upon failure violates Article I, Section 15 of the Ohio Constitution. Strattman v. Studt (1969), 20 Ohio St 2d 95, followed.

In re Jackson (1971), 26 Ohio St. 2d 51 -- It is a denial of equal protection for an indigent to be held past the expiration of the term of days imposed in order to work off a fine at a prescribed rate per day.

State v. Glasscock (1993), 91 Ohio App. 3d 520 -- (1) Court costs are in the nature of a civil debt. Requiring defendant to work them off by performing community service at $30 per day would be imprisonment for debt. (2) Different result as to working off fines in such a manner.

Cramer v. Petrie (1994), 70 Ohio St. 3d 131 -- Syllabus: "An obligation to pay child support is not a "debt" within the meaning of that term in Section 15, Article I of the Ohio Constitution. Because this obligation does not fall within the scope of Section 15, Article I, an order to pay child support may be enforced by means of imprisonment through contempt proceedings even after the child who is the subject of the order is emancipated."

In re Rinehart (1983), 10 Ohio App. 3d 318 -- Placing an indigent juvenile in detention for non-payment of court costs is imprisonment for owing a civil debt.

Second Natl. Bank of Sandusky v. Becker (1900), 62 Ohio St. 289 -- Paragraph two of the syllabus: "Money obligations arising upon contract, express or implied, are debts within the purview of section 15, of the Bill of Rights, which forbids imprisonment for debt in civil actions."

Heidelberg College v. Depew (1988), 44 Ohio Misc. 2d 20, 541 N.E. 2d 637) -- Contempt proceedings against judgment debtor who failed to make installment payments ordered is contrary to Article I, Section 15.

State v. Wright (1982), 4 Ohio App. 3d 291 -- Imprisonment for violation of R.C. 3113.06 (failure to pay maintenance costs of child who is a ward of welfare or children services agency) is not imprisonment for debt in a civil action.

Harris v. Harris (1979), 58 Ohio St. 2d 303 -- Enforcement of terms of divorce property settlement through contempt proceedings does not amount to imprisonment for debt. Also see Annotation, 154 A.L.R. 443.

State, on Complaint of Cook, v. Cook (1902), 66 Ohio St. 566 -- Paragraph two of the syllabus: "A final money decree for alimony is not a debt within the purview of the constitutional inhibition against imprisonment for debt, but is such an order as that...punishment as for contempt may follow a wilful failure to comply with it." Also see Holloway v. Holloway (1935), 130 Ohio St. 214.

Return to top of page

Proof of indigency; Costs assessment; In forma pauperis rules

Neitzke v. Williams (1989), 490 U.S. 319 -- Provision in federal procedural statutes allowing dismissal of frivolous or malicious complaints when plaintiff has asked for leave to proceed in forma pauperis is not to be interpreted so as to allow dismissal of all claims where, pursuant to Civil Rule 12(b)(6) the complaint fails to state a cause of action.

Wilson v. Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction (1996), 111 Ohio App. 3d 605 -- Court of Claims improperly dismissed inmate's action on the basis information in his affidavit of indigency was incomplete. Inmate in fact had completed and filed the requested documents prior to date of court's entry ordering him to do so.

Karmasu v. Wilkerson (1996), 115 Ohio App. 3d 737 -- Inmate's lawsuit properly dismissed after in forma pauperis status was revoked because of "repeatedly filing frivolous and vexatious pleadings" and subsequent failure to cover necessary costs of continuing the action. Also see Karmasu v. Southern Ohio Correctional Facility (1993), 63 Ohio Misc. 2d 377; Wilson v. Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction (2000), 138 Ohio App. 3d 239.

Rash v. Anderson (1997), 80 Ohio St. 3d 349, 351 -- With little discussion, court finds no constitutional violations in R.C. 2969.22, which calls for all but $10 to be taken from inmate accounts towards payment of court costs in civil cases.

Return to top of page

Return to Index

| Web Mail | Log-in | Privacy Policy | Disclaimer | Accessibility | Contact Us |