Login | September 20, 2018

Court to mark 30th anniversary of off-site court program in Marietta

At its session at Marietta High School later this month, the Ohio Supreme Court will celebrate 30 years of holding oral arguments in local communities across the state. (Photo courtesy of Marietta High School).

Supreme Court
Public Information Office

Published: October 12, 2017

Washington County will host the justices of the Ohio Supreme Court in an off-site session on Oct. 18. The Court returns to Marietta to commemorate the first off-site court session, which was held in the city 30 years ago this month.

The official session of the Court outside Columbus will be held at Marietta High School. Students from Marietta and eight other schools in the area will attend the Court’s oral arguments and discuss the three cases scheduled for consideration. Along with the brief summaries below, in-depth previews of the cases are now available.

Arguments in Marietta will begin at 9 a.m., and will be carried live online at sc.ohio.gov and broadcast live on The Ohio Channel.

Case Highlights

The first case, State ex rel. Kerns v. Simmers, involves hydraulic fracturing, also known as fracking. A 50-year-old state law, enacted long before fracking emerged, requires landowners to share the proceeds from oil and gas retrieved from below their properties. Several Harrison County landowners challenge the state natural resources agency’s order that allowed an oil and gas company to drill under all their properties without their permission, though paying a royalty. The landowners argue the step was an illegal taking of their property and they are entitled to compensation. The agency asserts that “unitizing” the properties for drilling ensures that all property owners have equal rights to the profits from the oil and gas below their land.

In the appeal State v. Gordon, a Cuyahoga County man was charged after he allegedly shot his friend in the foot and robbed him, and he was later charged with intimidating a witness when a video of his friend’s statement to police appeared on a social network. After the intimidation charge was made and the two cases were combined for one trial, the court wouldn’t allow the defendant's attorney to represent him because the prosecutor said the attorney was a witness. While the prosecutor maintains that the attorney had a conflict of interest in his dual roles as a witness and an advocate, the defendant contends that separate trials would have ensured his constitutional right to the attorney of his choice in the robbery case.

A former Cuyahoga County judge in Ohio State Bar Assn. v. Mason is facing possible disbarment after his conviction for assaulting his wife. The former judge, who was serving on the bench at the time of the 2014 assault, argues that the panel that reviewed the matter kept evidence about crucial mitigating factors from the professional conduct board and requests the lesser sanction of an indefinite suspension. The bar association notes that the board found that evidence supporting a lesser punishment were outweighed by the offenses and the higher standards of conduct for judges.

Participating High Schools

Marietta high schoolers will be joined by students from the following schools at the event: Belpre High School; Fort Frye High School; Frontier High School; Veritas Classical Academy; Warren High School; Washington County Career Center; Washington County Juvenile Center; and Waterford High School.

Student Activities

Before the day of oral arguments, students and teachers study curriculum material, including the case previews. Local attorneys partner with educators at each school to explain Ohio’s judicial system and to go over the materials. Students attending the first case will engage in a question-and-answer session with the justices. After the oral arguments, students will meet with the case attorneys to talk about the legal issues in the cases.

The Supreme Court holds off-site sessions twice a year. The session gives students the chance to watch the court in action and learn about how the judicial branch works.