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Supreme Court Upholds Defendant's Right To Challenge Evidence

shutterstock_10584919[1]-1000-ffccccccWhite-3333-0.20.3-1.pngYesterday, the Ohio Supreme Court, affirming its prior decision in State v. Shindler, upheld a defendant's right to move for the suppression of evidence through a legally and factually sufficient motion to suppress and to have a hearing on all issues raised. 

In 2011, Corrine Codeluppi was stopped on suspicion of operating a vehicle under the influence. The officer did not record the stop on his cruiser's dashcam, thus the only evidence relating to her performance on those tests was the officer's report and his testimony. Codeluppi's attorney filed a motion to suppress evidence, making several legal arguments related to the traffic stop, the search and seizure of defendant, the officer's administration of the field sobriety tests, Codeluppi's performance on the tests, and the officer's decision to arrest. The Motion stated, "It is the Defendant's contention, and the State is hereby put on notice, that the testing law enforcement officer failed to instruct, conduct, evaluate, administer, and/or record the standardized field sobriety tests used in the within matter in substantial compliance with [NHSTA] Guidelines." The motion also specifically cited to the statutory and regulatory code sections at issue and requested an oral hearing.

The day before the oral hearing on the motion, the State filed its response to the motion, simply arguing that the motion lacked sufficient particularity to put the State on notice of the alleged problems with the administration of the field sobriety tests. The trial court judge denied Codeluppi's motion on the same day, without a hearing. Codeluppi appealed the trial court's decision to the Ninth District Court of Appeals.

The Ninth District affirmed the trial court's decision, finding that Codeluppi's motion had "generally" set forth numerous legal issues but failed to state "with particularity" any factual allegations as to the impropriety of Ms. Codeluppi's detention and arrest. The appeal from this decision was thereafter accepted by the Supreme Court.

The Ohio Supreme Court, in a 6-1 decision, determined that " Shindler does not require that a defendant set forth the basis for suppression in excruciating detail. Instead, the question is whether the language used provides sufficient notice to the state. After all, '[t]he motion to suppress is merely a procedural vehicle to 'put the ball into play' and serve notice that the defendant intends to have the state meet its legislatively mandated burden of demonstrating compliance with any and all challenged regulations and requirements.' Weiler & Weiler, Baldwin's Ohio Driving Under the Influence Law, 2012-2013, Section 9:13, at 265 (2012)."

The Supreme Court's decision is a huge victory for defendants, giving defense attorneys the ability to fully and meaningfully challenge critical evidence which could ultimately result in the dismissal of unlawful arrests and improperly filed charges.

Jessica D'Varga is an Associate Attorney with The Law Offices of Saia & Piatt, Inc. Contact the firm to learn more about their defense services in Ohio.

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