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7th District Rejects One Prosecutor's Protest to an OVI Motion

By: April Campbell

This week, we credit one hilariously intractable prosecutor for a gem of a decision by the Seventh District. State v. Williams, 7th Dist. No 19HA5, 2019-Ohio-5064 (Dec. 6 2019). Looking down his nose at the defense attorney’s OVI motion like he’s the French Taunter in Monty Python, the prosecutor in Williams’s case refused to put on any evidence at the suppression hearing.  That’s right, he refused. He, like others before him, believed the defense attorney’s OVI motion was not particular enough to shift the burden of proof to him.  He cried foul. He was wrong.  

But I mean, who hasn’t been there? A prosecutor jumps up and down, insulting an OVI motion by calling it too “shotgun.” When In reality, you as defense counsel have read the relevant decisions. You know the motion has what you need to kick the burden over to the State. Such protestations seem less about notice, than it does about dripping distain at your request for the State to actually prove its case.

The thrust of the Williams decision teaches us what the Supreme Court of Ohio has long explained: When it comes to writing a motion to suppress, put enough facts into the motion to “put the ball into play.”  It is about notice.  But nothing else. The hurdle for your motion to be sufficient is not actually high. The Williams decision also advises us that clarifying any issues before a hearing matters. In short, if you can clear up any issues for the trial court before you start the hearing, as Williams’s attorney did in this case, do it.  

For more on what makes a motion sufficiently particular, read State v. Shindler, and State v. Codeluppi. (1994-Ohio-452 and 2014-Ohio-1574, respectively.) Or, look to the vast wealth of OACDL motions that are at your disposal thanks to your OACDL membership.  

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