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

JURISDICTION (140)

Also see Venue; Law Enforcement Officers; Indictments and Complaints.

 

Subject matter jurisdiction

Territorial jurisdiction

Other issues

 

R.C. 2901.11 -- Criminal law jurisdiction.

Revised Code Chapter 2931 -- Jurisdiction; Venue.

R.C. 2938.10 -- Territorial jurisdiction of magistrates court.

Subject matter jurisdiction

Bagley v. Bagley, 181 Ohio App. 3d 141, 2009-Ohio-688 – Concurring opinion bemoans the trend towards "jurisdictionalizing" error. At ¶44: "I sense that I am a voice in the wilderness, but the tendency to denigrate the efficacy and finality of judicial orders and judgments by treating them as void, and not merely voidable, when they are erroneous is, in my view, a serious problem that will only get worse as more and more kinds of error are determined to implicate subject-matter jurisdiction. In this connection, it is worth recalling that the subject-matter jurisdiction of the courts of common pleas in this state is the exclusive province of the General Assembly…"

State v. Yarbrough, 104 Ohio St. 3d 1, 2004-Ohio-6087 -- Students were abducted from Ohio but murdered in Pennsylvania. Based on a continuing course of conduct the Ohio court would have had venue, but it did not have jurisdiction over a homicide committed in another state. R.C. 2901.11(B) requires the act that causes death, or the physical contact that causes death, or the death itself take place in Ohio. Error was missed by prosecutor, defense counsel and the trial judge. Subject matter jurisdiction cannot be waived. Nor may the defendant be tried for complicity. The express limitation on jurisdiction in homicide cases trumps broader language in the complicity statute.

Pratts v. Hurley, 102 Ohio St. 3d 81, 2004-Ohio-1980 -- Syllabus: "The failure of a court to convene a three-judge panel, as required by R.C. 2945.06, does not constitute a lack of subject-matter jurisdiction that renders the trial court's judgment void ab initio and subject to collateral attack in habeas corpus. It constitutes an error in the court's exercise of jurisdiction that must be raised on direct appeal."It was error for a single judge to enter a plea in a capital case before a single judge, but that error was waived by the failure to appeal. Also see In re J.J., 111 Ohio St. 3d 205, 2006-Ohio-5484 (transfer order beyond the authority of a magistrate rendered judgment voidable but not void); State ex rel. Rash v. Jackson, 102 Ohio St. 3d 145, 2004-Ohio-2053; Kelley v. Wilson, 103 Ohio St. 3d 201, 2004-Ohio-4883.

State ex rel. Mason v. Griffin, 104 Ohio St. 3d 279, 2004-Ohio-6384 -- Writ of prohibition issued to prevent common pleas court judge empaneling a jury to determine facts related to imposition of an additional term as a major drug offender. The Ohio Constitution does not confer jurisdiction on the courts of common pleas. The legislature has not authorized the use of a jury in determining sentencing issues. If the judge sees a Blakely problem, the remedy is to hold portions of the sentencing statutes unconstitutional and sentence under the valid portions. Court expresses no opinion on the applicability of Blakely to the sentencing of major drug offenders.

State ex rel. Mayer v. Henson, 97 Ohio St. 3d 276, 2002-Ohio-6323 -- In 2001 a Common Pleas Court judge put on a nunc pro tunc entry altering the sentence he imposed in 1983 to net the defendant the amount of time he intended be served instead of the actual time to be served at the discretion of the Adult Parole Authority. Prosecutor's complaint in mandamus and prohibition was dismissed by the court of appeals. Supreme Court reverses, strongly indicating that the judge did not have jurisdiction to alter his prior order.

In re Burton S. (1999), 136 Ohio App. 3d 386 -- Subject matter and personal jurisdiction distinguished: Subject matter jurisdiction may be raised at any time, including when it is raised for the first time on appeal. But the filing of a complaint alleging delinquency gives the juvenile court subject matter jurisdiction. By contrast, personal jurisdiction may be waived unless raised in the trial court. Unless age is an essential element of the predicate adult crime, it is not a matter which must be proved at the adjudicatory hearing.

Columbus v. Spignola (2001), 144 Ohio App. 3d 76 -- (1) At p. 79, fn. 1: Issues concerning subject matter jurisdiction are not waived and will be considered by a reviewing court even if objections were not raised in the trial court. Also see In re Morehead (1991), 75 Ohio App. 3d 711, 715; Breidenbach v. Mayfield (1988), 37 Ohio St. 3d 138, 139. (2) The Home Rule Amendment to the Ohio Constitution does not bar enforcement of a municipal ordinance on state property, here the grounds of the Statehouse.

Burke v. Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles (2000), 114 Ohio Misc. 2d 46 -- Failure to file a notice of appeal from a BMV license suspension with that agency as well as the Common Pleas Court deprives the court of subject matter jurisdiction.

State v. Thacker, Lawrence App. No. 04CA5, 2004-Ohio-3978 -- Common pleas court's jurisdiction to accept guilty plea derived from the complaint. Subject matter jurisdiction did not depend on complaints initially filed in municipal court. Also see Foston v. Maxwell (1964), 177 Ohio St. 74, 76.

State v. Schooler, Greene App. No. 2003 CA 65, 2004-Ohio-2430 -- Municipal court judge mistakenly accepted a plea to carrying concealed weapons after being misinformed by the bailiff that it was a misdemeanor. The court did not have subject matter jurisdiction because the weapon was a loaded firearm. Therefore subsequent felony prosecution was not barred by double jeopardy.

State v. Wilson (1995), 73 Ohio St. 3d 40, 46 -- "The issue of a court's subject matter jurisdiction cannot be waived. A party's failure to challenge a court's subject matter jurisdiction cannot be used, in effect, to bestow jurisdiction on a court when there is none."

State v. Swiger (1998), 125 Ohio App. 3d 456 -- While a judgment is void if a court lacks subject matter jurisdiction, it is merely voidable if the court has subject matter jurisdiction, but exercised it erroneously. Defendant claimed capital case had to be tried to a three judge panel, and that court did not have jurisdiction if case was tried to a single judge.

State v. Pless (1996), 74 Ohio St. 3d 333 -- Syllabus: "(1) In a criminal case where the defendant elects to waive the right to trial by jury, R.C. 2945.05 mandates that the waiver must be in writing, signed by the defendant, filed in the criminal action and made part of the record thereof. Absent strict compliance with the requirements of R.C. 2945.05, a trial court lacks jurisdiction to try the defendant without a jury. (State v. Tate [1979], 59 Ohio St. 2d 50...and State ex rel. Jackson v. Dallman [1994], 70 Ohio St. 3d 261...construed and applied. (2) The failure to comply with R.C. 2945.05 may be remedied only in a direct appeal from a criminal conviction. (State v. Tate [1979], 59 Ohio St. 2d 50...and State ex rel. Jackson v. Dallman [1994], 70 Ohio St. 3d 261...and State ex rel Larkins v. Baker [1995], 73 Ohio St. 3d 658...harmonized." Also see State v. Ward (1996), 114 Ohio App. 3d 72 where Pless was followed. Though a signed waiver was in the appellate record, it had not been file stamped.

State ex rel. Jackson v. Dallman (1994), 70 Ohio St. 3d 261 -- When a properly executed waiver of the right to trial by jury does not appear in the file, a court is without jurisdiction to conduct a bench trial. Writ of habeas corpus granted. Affidavit by the prosecutor that the defendant signed a waiver is of no consequence. Also see State ex rel. Jackson v. McFaul (1995), 73 Ohio St. 3d 185.

State v. Miller (1988), 47 Ohio App. 3d 113 -- Headnote 2: "A municipal court does not acquire competent jurisdiction in a criminal case when the complaint and affidavit are not properly signed by the complainant." But jeopardy did not bar second trial on properly executed complaint.

New Albany v. Dalton (1995), 104 Ohio App. 3d 307 -- Court lacks jurisdiction when the complaint is not properly sworn. Since the issue goes to jurisdiction, it is not waived if not raised through pretrial motion. Complaint was not sworn before mayor as purported. Mayor's signature was by means of a rubber stamp. Claim that complaint was sworn before a notary was not substantiated by acknowledgement of notary on the complaint.

State ex rel. Koren v. Grogan (1994), 68 Ohio St. 3d 590 -- Though appeal might have furnished a remedy had the trial court determined its jurisdiction, "a writ of prohibition will issue where there is a patent and unambiguous restriction on the jurisdiction of the court which clearly places the dispute outside the court's jurisdiction."

State v. Williams (1993), 86 Ohio App. 3d 37 -- Trial court did not have jurisdiction to hear motion for new trial filed after the notice of appeal was filed. Court of appeals had jurisdiction to determine the appeal, which would have been obviated had the motion been granted. Also see State v. Richard (1996), 113 Ohio App. 3d 141 (First plea vacated. New sentence still included improper terms of probation.)

State ex rel. Jones v. Garfield Heights Municipal Court (1997), 77 Ohio St. 3d 447 -- Defendant brought a prohibition action challenging the jurisdiction of the municipal court where he was charged with petty theft because the police report indicated that in addition to the theft of $249 worth of beef he was charged with, he had also stolen $89 worth of pork, taking the total over the $300 line between misdemeanor and felony theft. Petition properly dismissed. Prosecutor acted within his discretion.

State v. Atwood (1990), 61 Ohio App. 3d 650, 654 -- "When two separate offenses are set forth in a statute, Crim. R. 3 implicitly requires the complaint to set forth the specific subsection under which the defendant is being charged." If it fails to do so, the court lacks subject matter jurisdiction. Compare State v. Broughton (1988), 51 Ohio App. 3d 10 finding failure to specify a subsection not fatal if language of complaint is sufficient to identify the subsection.

State v. Awan (1986), 22 Ohio St. 3d 120 -- Whether or not a provision is unconstitutional does not go to whether the court has jurisdiction over the person or subject matter.

State v. Riggins (1980), 68 Ohio App. 2d 1 -- (1) Errors which deprive the trial court of subject matter jurisdiction are not waived by the entry of a guilty plea. (2) Entry of a guilty plea does not waive appeal of constitutional deficiencies in juvenile bindover proceedings.

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Territorial jurisdiction

State v. Jacob, 185 Ohio App. 3d 408, 2009-Ohio-7048 – The Miamisburg Municipal Court issued a search warrant for premises in San Mateo County, California.. The warrant was faxed to an officer there who executed it and found the Hummel figurines listed. Back in Ohio, the trial court initially overruled a motion to suppress, finding no fundamental violation of the defendant’s constitutional rights because probable cause had been demonstrated and a court with proper jurisdiction would have granted a warrant if one had been sought. Later it found that probable cause had not been established, but good faith reliance on the warrant saved the search. Reversed. The Ohio court was utterly without jurisdiction to issue a warrant to search premises in another state. The violation is so substantial it is tantamount to structural error. Good faith does not apply.

State v. Fawcett, 91 Ohio St. 3d 1, 2000-Ohio-195 -- Syllabus: "Courts of appeals have jurisdiction to review judgments entered by those inferior courts located within the territorial boundaries of their appellate districts." Thus where a municipal court has jurisdiction spreading over more than one county, appeal lies to the appellate district within which the court sits.

In re Luman, 172 Ohio App. 3d 461, 2007-Ohio-2565 -- According to R.C. 2151.353(J) the jurisdiction of a juvenile court concerning a child residing in a different county in some circumstances terminates a year after the last action in a case. Mother who lived in county 1, sought unsuccessfully to regain custody in county 2 where the child had been adjudicated dependent. More than a year later she sought custody in county 3 where the child actually lived. Applying the statute, which is deemed unambiguous, the court there erroneously dismissed the mother's motion for want of jurisdiction. The court notes there may still be an impediment based on a prior paternity action in county 4.

State v. Scott (1965), 3 Ohio App. 2d 239 -- Headnote 2: "A court will take judicial notice of the limits of its jurisdiction and the extent of the territory therein included."

Columbus v. Roberts (April 27, 1989), Franklin County App. Nos. 88AP-1023, 1024, unreported (1989 Opinions 1453) -- The Franklin County Municipal Court has jurisdiction over all cases arising within the city limits of the City of Columbus, even those portions which are outside Franklin County.

State v. Chintalpalli (2000), 88 Ohio St. 3d 43 -- Ohio court had jurisdiction to prosecute father for nonsupport, even though he no longer lived in state, since support order arose form an Ohio divorce. Venue was proper in the county where the divorce was granted.

State v. Kinney (1982), 7 Ohio App. 3d 234 -- Where a continuous course of conduct establishing an element of an offense begins in Ohio, Ohio courts have jurisdiction, even though the bulk of the proscribed conduct appear to have happened in another state. Also see State v. Shrum (1982), 7 Ohio App. 3d 244.

State v. Kelly (1993), 89 Ohio App. 3d 320 -- Court finds Ohio trial court had jurisdiction to try rape which occurred in Tennessee because it was part of a continuous, unbroken chain of events beginning with an abduction in Ohio.

Cincinnati v. Dryden (1998), 91 Ohio Misc. 2d 235 -- For traffic violations on bridges across the Ohio River, Ohio courts have jurisdiction only to the north of the geodetically determined position of the north bank of the river when Kentucky became a state in 1792. Though both states have jurisdiction over the river itself, this does not extend to bridges.

State v. Luna (1994), 96 Ohio App. 3d 207 -- An indictment must allege that the offense occurred within the jurisdiction of the court.

Pepper Pike v. Garson (1997), 117 Ohio App. 3d 473 -- Suburban officer followed speeder into a different suburb, and following difficulties charged him with disorderly conduct under the ordinances of his home suburb. Since town where the charges arose was not within the jurisdiction of the municipal court hearing the case, the trial court lacked jurisdiction.

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Other issues

Cleveland v. Washington Mutual Bank, 179 Ohio App. 3d 692, 2008-Ohio-6959 – Bank was sent summons for building and housing code violations, but did not respond. Court devised a stratagem for trial in absentia. Court finds that while there is a procedure for enforcing a response to indictments, none is provided with respect to summons sent corporations, as opposed to individuals. Nor is there a procedure provided for trial in absentia in these circumstances. Affirmed: Cleveland v. Washington Mutual Bank, 125 Ohio St. 3d 541, 2010-Ohio-2219. Syllabus: “R.C. 2941.47 does not authorize a trial of a corporation in absentia in a criminal proceeding that is initiated by affidavit or complaint in a municipal court.”

State v. Mohamed, 178 Ohio App. 3d 695, 2008-Ohio-5591 – Mother born in Somalia was charged as an adult with kidnapping, felonious assault and child endangerment, it being alleged she and her husband had used a hot fork to discipline three children in their care. Her actual age was in dispute. The state submitted documents indicating a January 1st birthday which would have made her 18. The defense offered testimony that the age provided in such documents could not be relied upon, as documents prepared to permit emigration from refugee camps was prepared by Somalis who did not speak the same language as the Bantu refugees. There was a pattern of using either January 1st or July 1st as the birthdate. To establish jurisdiction the prosecutor had to establish age beyond a reasonable doubt. Court did not abuse its discretion ordering case transferred to the juvenile court.

State v. Garretson (2000), 140 Ohio App. 3d 554 -- Defendant was mistakenly let out of prison early by the Department of Corrections. Prosecutor filed a motion in the trial court to have him taken back to serve the rest of his time. Defendant showed up as a spectator at the hearing, and was taken back to prison when the court granted the motion. Since the original sentencing order was valid, "when Garretson was delivered to the permanent detention facility, the authority of the judicial branch over Garretson's sentence ended. Thereafter the trial court had no authority in the motion proceeding before it to order that Garretson be returned to prison to serve an additional eight months."

State v. Spriggs, 118 Ohio Misc. 2d 189, 2000-Ohio-2697 -- Common pleas court concludes local municipal court had authority to issue a search warrant related to an aggravated murder case pending in the common pleas court.

State v. DeSantis, Stark App. No. 2004CA00078 -- Defendant was charged with driving while under a FRA suspension and vehicle was impounded. A judge signed an order permitting retrieval of personal belongings from the vehicle. Impound lot operator permitted retrieval only after defendant paid cost to date and signed over title of the vehicle. Operator had not been made a party or served with a summons of complaint. Thus trial court lacked in personam jurisdiction.

In re Hlavsa (2000), 139 Ohio App. 3d 871 -- A juvenile court judge ordered granted permanent custody of children to a child welfare agency, but was suspended from practice before the order was journalized. Order was void. Order was not saved by journalization by administrative judge acting as the court's ex officio clerk.

In re Kurtzhalz (1943), 141 Ohio St. 433 -- Syllabus: "(1) An appeal on questions of law brings before the appellate court only the final order, judgment or decree sought to be reviewed. (2) As to the remainder of the cause, the lower court retains all jurisdiction not inconsistent with that of the appellate court to review, affirm, modify or reverse the final order, judgment or decree from which the appeal has been perfected. (Goode v. Wiggins, 12 Ohio St. 341, approved and followed.)"

State v. Watson (1975), 48 Ohio App. 2d 110, 113-114 -- Once an appeal has been taken the court may not dispose of the case in such a manner as to negate the subject matter of the appeal or interfere with the jurisdiction of the appellate court. The court granted a defense motion to dismiss after prosecutor had appealed ruling on pretrial motion. Also see Vavrina v. Greczanik (1974), 40 Ohio App. 2d 129 [motion for relief from judgment under Civil Rule 60(B)].

State v. Lett (1978), 58 Ohio App. 2d 45 -- The trial court retains jurisdiction to determine a motion for shock probation while an appeal is pending. However, see State v. Delaney (1983), 9 Ohio App. 3d 47 -- Court loses jurisdiction to hear shock motion if does not rule within the prescribed 60 day period. Also see State v. Ellington (1987), 36 Ohio App. 3d 76 -- Decision must be journalized within the sixty day period.

State v. Addison (1987), 40 Ohio App. 3d 7 -- While R.C. 2929.51(A) permits the court to suspend sentence up until the time the defendant is delivered into the custody of the institution, the court's jurisdiction to suspend sentence and place a defendant on probation after that time is limited to shock probation.

State v. Wobler (1983), 10 Ohio App. 3d 155 -- Court retains jurisdiction to order Sheriff to carry out terms of sentence, specifically delivery of the defendant to the institution where sentence is to be served.

State v. Justice (November 24, 1978), Franklin Co. App. No. 78AP-601, unreported (1978 Opinions 3276) -- Even though an appeal may be pending, the trial court retains jurisdiction to hear a post conviction action attacking the same conviction.

State v. Flowers (March 26, 1981), Franklin Co. App. No. 80AP-906, unreported (1981 Opinions 700, 702) -- "When an affidavit of prejudice is filed against a common pleas judge pursuant to R.C. 2701.03, it has at least a temporary effect of depriving the trial judge of the power to proceed on the case until such time as the affidavit of disqualification has been ruled upon by the Chief Justice of the Ohio Supreme Court or another Supreme Court judge designated by him. Cuyahoga Co. Bd. of Mental Retardation v. Association (1975), 47 Ohio App. 2d 28."

Whitehall v. Wolfe (1986), 27 Ohio App. 3d 357 -- Headnote: "There is no statutory provision authorizing a mayor's court to laterally transfer a case to another court of concurrent jurisdiction." (Here the Franklin County Municipal Court which had concurrent jurisdiction in misdemeanor cases.)

Hughes v. Scaffide (1978), 53 Ohio St. 2d 85 -- If an original action is filed within the original jurisdiction of the Supreme Court or Court of Appeals (mandamus, habeas corpus etc.) these courts cannot refuse to exercise that original jurisdiction under the doctrine of forum non conveniens.

State v. Mackert (May 23, 1978), Franklin Co. App. No. 77AP-922, unreported (1978 Opinions 1350) -- Following appeal to the Ohio Supreme Court, the trial court regains jurisdiction after the Supreme Court issues its mandate.

State v. Milo (1986), 28 Ohio App. 3d 60 -- Trial was moved to Franklin County from Summit County but subsequent motion for a new trial was filed in Summit County. Though Franklin County may have been the proper place to file the motion, jurisdiction of the court of appeals is determined by the county of actual filing and appeal from Summit County Court of Common Pleas does not lie to the Franklin County Court of Appeals.

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