Medina County Courthouse

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Ninth District Opinions Released July 8, 2013

On July 8, 2013, the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Appellate District released two opinions. One concerned a criminal case and the other concerned a civil case. My summaries of the decisions appear below: 

Matheny v. Matheny, 2013-Ohio-2946 was an appeal from a domestic relations case out of the Wayne County Common Pleas Court. At issue was the interpretation of a separation agreement entered into by the Mathenys who were acting pro se. There were two versions of the separation agreement. On the first version the parties agreed to split one half of the proceeds from the sale of the marital residence. On the second version they agreed to split one half of the profit from the sale of the residence. (The reason that there were two versions was that when they filed the first agreement along with their dissolution petition they had not filled out the part of the pre-printed form dealing with child support.)

When the house was sold, it was sold for less than the price that the Mathenys paid when they bought the home. The magistrate reasoned that profit was the moneys received over the cost of an item and therefore there was no "profit" on the sale of the home. The Court of Appeals reversed and remanded the case for further proceedings.  The appellate court found that the term "profit" and its use was ambiguous. In part of the separation agreement they referred to the home having a mortgage and in another part they referred to the cost of construction. While the appellate court found the magistrate's reasoning reasonable it also found that the two references made the term "profit" ambiguous. It then remanded for the trial court to take extrinsic evidence. 

State v. Brown, 2013-Ohio-2945 was a criminal case also from Wayne County. Mr. Brown appealed his conviction for aggravated murder. He listed several assignments of error. Mr. Brown argued that his convictions were against the manifest weight of the evidence and that the State had not sustained its burden of proof. The appellate court overruled those assignments of error. He also argued that the trial court had committed reversible error during the reading of the jury instructions and during a curative instruction in which the trial court mentioned the possibility of an appeal. This assignment was also overruled. The Court of Appeals did, however, find that the trial court improperly imposed post-release control on the charge of aggravated murder. That charge was an unclassified felony and therefore not subject to post-release control. The appellate court remanded for the trial court to hold another sentencing hearing without imposing post-release control on that charge. 

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