The Ohio Supreme Court reinstated kidnapping and other convictions from a man who had been previously acquitted by an Appeals court on sufficiency of evidence grounds. The court said that the evidence in the case was “overwhelming, undisputed, and not mentioned in the court of appeals’ opinion.”
The case is State v. Tate, Slip Opinion No. 2014-Ohio-3667.
The case involved a 2011 incodent with a 14-year-old girl. The defendant met the girl outside a library, walked her home, and solicited oral sex. He claimed that he had innocent motives, had not known that she was underage, and that he had not used deception or force to obtain sexual contact.
The court of appeals had vacated all of the Defendant’s convictions, sua sponte, after finding that there was insufficient evidence to prove his identity as the man who had committed the offenses.
The court noted that, in fact, “there was no conflicting evidence on the issue of identity— [the Defendant] agreed that he was the man with [the girl].” Neither party, according to the court, argued otherwise.
The Supreme Court was very critical of the Court of Appeals. The court said that this case was “light-years away from the exceptional case warranting reversal on manifest-weight grounds.” The court also added that the sua sponte review of the issue was improper: “appellate courts should not decide cases on the basis of a new, unbriefed issue without “giv[ing] the parties notice of its intention and an opportunity to brief the issue.” State v. 1981 Dodge Ram Van, 36 Ohio St.3d 168, 170.”