Franklin County Criminal Law Casebook

Reproduced with permission from:
Timothy E. Pierce and the Franklin County Public Defender Office

State v Murray, 186 Ohio App. 3d 185, 2009-Ohio-6174, ¶19 – “Because the parties chose to stipulate the facts instead of presenting testimony, the trial court was unable to assess witness credibility and was bound by the facts contained in the stipulation. “A stipulation, once entered into, filed and accepted by the court, is binding upon the parties and is a fact deemed adjudicated for purposes of determining the remaining issues in that case. A party who has agreed to a stipulation cannot unilaterally retract or withdraw it.” State v. McCullough, Putnam App. No. 12-07-09, 2008-Ohio-3055, ¶20.” Otherwise suspicious circumstances were neutralized by the terms of the stipulation, tying the hands of the trial and appellate courts in a case where a man died after falling over an 11-foot wall. The defendant was charged with tampering with evidence because the moved the man, while still alive, back to his truck. Issue was whether the stipulation allowed a finding against the defendant on the question of his knowledge an official investigation was likely to occur.
State v. Blanton, 184 Ohio App. 3d 611, 2009-Ohio-5334, ¶9-10 – Sexually oriented offender failed to give 20 days notice he planned to move from a motel he could no longer afford to a relative’s home, leading to conviction and lengthy imprisonment for failure to register. In the trial court he stipulated the element he was under a duty to provide notice of a change of address. On appeal he claimed that S.B. 10 created a six month hiatus in the registration requirements for sex offenders between July 1, 2007 and January 1, 2008. The stipulation binds the parties on appeal and waives the assignment of error.
In re B.M., 181 Ohio App. 3d 606, 2009-Ohio-1718, ¶615 -- Stipulations have the same force and effect as testimony and may rise to the level of clear and convincing evidence depending on the nature of the matters stipulated. In a termination of parental rights proceeding the parties worked out a stipulation of facts while the father was debating surrender of parental rights. This formed the basis for the court‘s adjudication. Majority rejects claims a due process claim that a Juv.R. 29 inquiry was required and that proceeding in this manner amounted to ineffective assistance of counsel.
State v. Blackburn, Trumbull App. No. 2002-T-0052, 2003-Ohio-605 -- Where a prior conviction served to elevate the degree of the offense, defense counsel only stipulated that the defendant had pled no contest to a prior charge. The judge mistakenly instructed the jury that the parties had stipulated the prior conviction. Majority concludes that the prior conviction element had not been proven, but noting defense counsel's repeated failure to correct the court's misunderstanding didn't want retrial to be barred by double jeopardy, as would be the result if reversal was based on insufficient evidence. To avoid this, the error is characterized as error in an evidentiary ruling by the judge, invited by defense counsel. Thus the charge can be retried. Dissent finds inaction amounted to a stipulation of the prior conviction and would affirm.
In re Moore, 153 Ohio App. 3d 641, 2003-Ohio-4250 -- Pro se party claimed to be confused and complained about being unrepresented, but ultimately stipulated admission of exhibits saying "I don't want to hear it." Admission held to have been within the court's discretion.
Ish v. Crane (1862), 13 Ohio St. 574, 580 -- The submission of a stipulation of facts to the court is " be (comparable to) a special verdict of the jury, expressing the result of the proof made by both parties..." Also see Garrett v. Hanshue (1895), 53 Ohio St. 482, 495-496.
State v. F.O.E. Aerie 2295 (1988), 38 Ohio St. 3d 53 -- Submission of a stipulation of facts is the equivalent of the commencement of trial on the merits and performs the same function as the factual determination rendered by a jury upon conflicting evidence.
Old Chief v. United States (1997), 519 U.S. 172 -- Defendant charged in federal court with having a weapon while under a disability offered to stipulate existence of prior conviction in order to avoid jury learning that the conviction was for assault causing serious bodily injury. Applying Evidence Rule 403, held to be an abuse of discretion to allow prosecution to reject the stipulation and prove the prior offense.
State v. Henton (1997), 121 Ohio App. 3d 510 -- Prosecutor refused defendant's offer to stipulate he had a prior drug offense conviction, then, though proof of only one such conviction was required, offered evidence concerning two priors. Reversed.
State v. Riley (1994), 98 Ohio App. 3d 801 -- Defendant was charged with aggravated trafficking, with the penalty enhanced on the basis of a prior conviction. In response to a motion in limine concerning mention of the defendant's prior record, counsel stipulated the validity of the prior conviction, and in exchange no mention was made of this element of the offense by the prosecution or in instructions. In effect, this element was tried to the court. Court of appeals finds it was error to withhold this element from the jury without a proper waiver of the right to trial by jury, but that the error was harmless in view of the stipulation. Might cite case in support of the proposition that some elements may be tried to the court and others to the jury, if there is a proper waiver. Compare State v. Riley (1995), 106 Ohio App. 3d 139 -- No error in refusing to accept stipulation of prior conviction in order to avoid prejudicial disclosure to the jury.
State v. Maurer (1985), 15 Ohio St. 3d 239, 264-266 -- Stipulation of the cause of death does not automatically render photographs of the victim inadmissible. If the pictures have probative value concerning issues in dispute beyond the content of the stipulation, they may be admitted if their relevancy and probative value outweighs the danger of unfair prejudice to the defendant.
State v. Eaton (1969), 19 Ohio St. 2d 145, 153-154 -- State may still present a witness to offer similar acts testimony, notwithstanding the defendant's offer of a stipulation that he committed the other offense.

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Published by Timothy E. Pierce
Copyright © Franklin County Public Defender and Timothy E. Pierce, 2015
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