The case is State of Ohio v. Justin Baker.
Baker was indicted on three counts of trafficking in marijuana, two counts of possession of marijuana, two counts of cultivation of marijuana, two counts of possession of criminal tools, and one count of engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity. Following a bench trial, Baker was found guilty on all counts and sentenced to eight years imprisonment.
The court reversed the conviction. The court found “that Warren County was not the proper venue to bring charges against Baker, as he did not cultivate/traffic/possess marijuana there, nor did he possess criminal tools or engage in a pattern of corrupt activity in Warren County.”
The court addressed that while the:
[D]ecision…results in a distasteful outcome…[a]s an appellate court
we are bound to apply the rule of law and reach a decision based upon
constitutional and statutory precepts, rather than orchestrate a futile
attempt to make the facts fit legal standards in an effort to reach
conclusion that may be just, but nevertheless, contrary to law.
The court also examined the relationships between Baker and four other individuals involved in the trafficking and cultivation to determine if the RICO statute applied. The court explained that “when determining whether a group of people are associated-in-fact, a court will look to whether the group is a ‘continuing unit that functions with a common purpose.’” 2012-Ohio-887 at ¶ 10, quoting Boyle v. United States, 556 U.S. 938, 939, 129 S.Ct 2237 (2009). In this case, the court found that Baker and his associates “functioned as separate parts to form a whole, with a shared, common purpose…Thus, there was no association-in-fact as contemplated by Ohio’s organized crime statutes.”