Township Police Can Conduct Traffic Stop Outside of Jurisdiction in Limited Circumstances

By: Cara M. Wright, Esq.

The Fifth District Court of Appeals recently held in State v. Dawley, — N.E. 3d —, 2016-Ohio-2904, that a municipal police officer properly conducted a traffic stop outside of his jurisdiction pursuant to the community caretaking / emergency aid exception to the warrant requirement.  In that case, a police officer observed a woman driving erratically on the interstate.  On multiple occasions the woman’s vehicle traveled outside of her marked lane, and accelerated and decelerated.  At one point, another motorist pulled up alongside the officer and expressed concern regarding the woman’s erratic driving.  Although the officer was not within his jurisdiction, he effectuated a traffic stop.  The police officer observed the woman having glassy, droopy eyes and that at one point she appeared to fall asleep.  The police officer took the woman’s keys to prevent her from driving away, and then waited at the scene for a state trooper, who conducted an investigation into the woman’s sobriety.  She was subsequently charged  with driving under the influence.

Prior to trial, the woman filed a motion to suppress seeking to exclude evidence gathered following the traffic stop.  She asserted that, since the police officer was outside of his jurisdiction, the stop was conducted without probable cause and in violation of the Fourth Amendment.  The trial court rejected that argument, and the appellate court affirmed the denial of the motion to suppress.

The appellate court found that the stop did not violate the Fourth Amendment, as the officer was permitted to conduct the stop under the “community-caretaking/ emergency aid” exception to the warrant requirement.  Under that exception, a law enforcement officer with objectively reasonable grounds to believe that there is an immediate need for his or her assistance to protect life or prevent serious injury may effect a community-caretaking / emergency aid stop.  The Court held that in this situation the police officer was duty-bound to provide emergency services to protect the public from the risk of harm posed by the intoxicated driver.  The Court held that the officer’s actions were reasonable under the circumstances, as he had personally observed the erratic and dangerous driving and the stop was necessary to protect other innocent motorists from the danger that the woman posed.


For questions or more information on the topic of this blog post, please contact:

Cara M. Wright – MRR Cleveland
Phone: 440.287.8321
Fax: 440.248.8861
Email: cwright@mrrlaw.com

MRR Ohio Legislative Updates: June 3 – June 16, 2016

Notes from the House of Representatives

  • HB No. 581 was introduced to permit and regulate managers, members, and interests of series limited liability companies.

For questions or more information on MRR’s Ohio Legislation Updates, contact:

Stacy V. Pollock  – MRR Columbus
Phone: 614.324.0163
Email: spollock@mrrlaw.com

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Mazanec, Raskin & Ryder Welcomes School Law Attorney Teresa Combs to Lexington Office

Teresa CombsMazanec, Raskin & Ryder Co., L.P.A. (MRR) announced today that Teresa T. Combs has joined the firm as a partner in its Lexington, Kentucky, office.

For more than 30 years, Ms. Combs has concentrated her practice in the area of school law.  She has represented school districts as both in-house and local counsel. For the past 20 years, she has worked for school districts across the Commonwealth of Kentucky as an attorney with the Kentucky School Boards Association. In that position, she has advised and trained staff and board members from nearly every public school district in the Commonwealth concerning school law issues.  Teresa is particularly known for her experience in the areas of special education and disability law, including the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act.  She has a vast amount of experience in advising and training school district administrators on implementation of legal requirements in public schools.  She also has extensive experience in the area of personnel law specific to Kentucky public school staff.

Teresa has served on numerous boards and committees concerning school and education-related matters, including the Kentucky Department of Education’s Special Education Regulations Advisory Committee and the Kentucky Education Professional Standards Board’s Special Education Teacher Preparation Workgroup. Teresa earned her J.D. at the University of Kentucky College of Law and her B.A. at Pikeville College.

“Teresa will play an integral role in enhancing the services that we already supply to our school law clients in Kentucky,” said MRR President and Managing Partner Joseph F. Nicholas, Jr. “She possesses an extraordinary level of experience with districts across the Commonwealth and we are fortunate and very excited to welcome Teresa to our team.”

MRR’s School Law group offers the experience and insight to deliver cost effective legal services required by public school districts, private schools, and institutions of higher learning. The firm’s services include policy review and development, counseling on matters involving employment, student discipline, teacher evaluation, special education issues, staff member misconduct, residency, preparation of employment agreements, significant accidents, compliance with state and federal regulatory requirements, construction law, collective bargaining, tax appeals, and zoning and land use compliance. MRR also has considerable experience advising school districts on matters relating to civil rights, personal injury, and premises liability.

MRR Article: The Responsible Ohio Protection Act Gummed Down

Mike ByrneBy: Michael P. Byrne, Esq.
Mazanec, Raskin & Ryder Co., LPA

On May 25, 2016, with a vote of 62-35, the Ohio House of Representatives officially passed H.B. 279, the Responsible Driver Protection Act.  This legislation is purportedly intended to combat the problem of the approximately 15% of Ohio drivers that operate vehicles without the required insurance coverage.  However, does this bill really have the teeth necessary to take a bite out of that number?

The Responsible Driver Protection Act, if made law, would bar uninsured drivers from recovering non-economic damages for harm sustained in an auto accident.  This would mean that the damages of an uninsured driver in an automobile accident negligence case would be limited to economic damages such as medical costs, property damage and lost wages.  But, there are several limitations to this bar to non-economic recovery.

Several exceptions would prevent the law from applying in certain egregious circumstances, such as:

  • where the at fault driver pleads guilty to or is convicted of committing an offense for which four or six points are assessed (vehicular homicide, OVI, leaving the scene of an accident, fleeing police, reckless driving, driving under suspension);
  • the at fault driver pleads guilty to or is convicted of texting while driving;
  • if the matter is a cause of action for wrongful death; or
  • the injured party is under the age of 18.

However, there is also a rather glaring limitation.  The injured driver not only has to be uninsured at the time of the accident, they also have to have had their license suspended for failure to maintain proof of financial responsibility at sometime within the seven years prior to the accident.  As such, the person would not only have to be a repeat offender, but they also would have to have gotten caught, prosecuted, and had their license suspended for doing so.

It is safe to assume that this limitation would significantly narrow down the aforementioned figure of 15% of drivers.  Regardless, the legislation does make a statement as far as public sentiment towards the costly problem of uninsured drivers specifically, and the costs of litigation in general.  A sentiment that appears to be growing as 12 other states (Alaska, California, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Michigan, Missouri, New Jersey, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, and Indiana) have enacted similar legislation, and the laws have been upheld as constitutional in three of those states (California, Louisiana, and New Jersey).  This legislation has garnered a lot of support from both insurance carriers and agents.  It will be interesting to watch now as it works through the Ohio Senate.

For additional information or questions about H.B. 279, please contact attorney Michael Byrne at 440.287.8323 or mbyrne@mrrlaw.com.

 

“Pocket Dials” and Privacy Rights

By: Christina M. Nicholas, Esq.

Everyone has placed a “pocket dial” at some point.  You likely discovered the call had been placed, ended it, and sent an apologetic text to the recipient.  You probably did not give the dial a second thought, but what if the recipient had written down or recorded what he or she heard?  Is there a reasonable expectation of privacy in information communicated during an inadvertent “pocket dial?”

This question was answered in Huff v. Spaw, 794 F.3d 543 (6th Cir.2015).  In this case, an airport chairman’s iPhone inadvertently placed a “pocket dial” to another airport employee’s office phone.  Id.  During the “pocket dial,” the employee heard the chairman discussing personnel matters with another airport employee and his wife.  Id. at 546.  The employee took handwritten notes and recorded the conversations she heard.  Id. The airport chairman and his wife brought suit, alleging that the employee intentionally intercepted the oral communications in violation of the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act.  Id.

The court found that because the chairman placed the “pocket dial” to the airport employee, he exposed his conversations to her, and, thus, failed to show an expectation of privacy in the conversations.  Id. at 550.  The chairman did not have a reasonable expectation of privacy in the conversations because he was aware of the risk of making “pocket dials,” and had failed to take any measures to prevent the pocket dial from occurring.  Id. at 552.  As it relates to the chairman’s wife, the court found that, “speaking to a person who may carry a device capable of intercepting one’s statements does not constitute a waiver of the expectation of privacy in those statements.”  (Emphasis added). Id. at 553.

The ruling in Huff v. Spaw is particularly important to those in law enforcement.  When information regarding criminal activity is communicated via “pocket dial” to 911, this information can now be admitted at trial, as there is no reasonable expectation of privacy in said information.


For questions or more information on the topic of this blog post, please contact:

Christina M. Nicholas – MRR Cleveland
Phone: 440.287.8296
Fax: 440.248.8861
Email: cnicholas@mrrlaw.com

MRR Ohio Legislative Updates: May 20 – June 2, 2016

Notes from the House of Representatives

  • Sub. SB No. 63 was passed upon third consideration to create an online voter registration system, to require the Secretary of State annually to review the Statewide Voter Registration Database to identify registrants who are not United States citizens, to modify the procedures for maintaining the Statewide Voter Registration Database, to amend the requirements for the certification of voting equipment, and to clarify the circumstances under which a political party may appoint a person to fill a vacancy in certain elective offices.
  • HB No. 579 was introduced to make supplemental appropriations to the Department of Transportation in order to provide political subdivisions with funding for critical road maintenance repairs.
  • Sub. SB No. 129 was passed upon third consideration to amend the law related to the prior authorization requirements of insurers and to delay the effective date of certain laws regarding community mental health and addiction services.
  • Sub. SB No. 321 was passed upon third consideration to create a procedure within the Court of Claims to hear complaints alleging a denial of access to public records, to modify the circumstances under which a person who files a mandamus action seeking the release of public records may be awarded court costs and attorney’s fees, to expand the infrastructure record exemption under Public Records Law, and to generally protect a private, nonprofit institution of higher education from liability for a breach of confidentiality or other claim that arises from the institution’s disclosure of public records.
  • Sub. HB No. 413 was passed upon third consideration to add to the purposes for which a board of township trustees may go into executive session, to permit a township to charge for recycling services, to reduce the population threshold for a township to adopt a limited home rule form of government, to authorize a township to purchase, lease, or provide underwater rescue and recovery equipment for fire and rescue purposes, to authorize boards of township trustees to pay for group life insurance for any employee, to expand the cemetery purposes for which such boards may levy a tax or expend township funds, to make other changes to the township laws or laws relating to township authority, to allow taxing units to use the proceeds of a fire, police, or emergency services tax levy to pay costs related to the service for which the tax is levied, to remove the limitations on the authority to reappoint members of the Ohio Small Government Capital Improvements Commission, to authorize boards of township trustees and boards of park commissioners to expend funds for the public purpose of presenting community events in their parks and other recreational facilities, and to expand the public infrastructure improvements townships, municipal corporations, and counties may pay for using money from their public improvement tax increment equivalent funds.
  • Am. Sub. HB No. 277 was passed upon third consideration to authorize a county, township, or municipal corporation to impose a 9-1-1 system levy in only the portion of the subdivision that would be served by the 9-1-1 system.

Notes from the Senate

  • Sub. HB No. 413 was passed upon third consideration to add to the purposes for which a board of township trustees may go into executive session, to permit a township to charge for recycling services, to reduce the population threshold for a township to adopt a limited home rule form of government, to authorize a township to purchase, lease, or provide underwater rescue and recovery equipment for fire and rescue purposes, to authorize boards of township trustees to pay for group life insurance for any employee, to expand the cemetery purposes for which such boards may levy a tax or expend township funds, to make other changes to the township laws or laws relating to township authority, to allow taxing units to use the proceeds of a fire, police, or emergency services tax levy to pay costs related to the service for which the tax is levied, to remove the limitations on the authority to reappoint members of the Ohio Small Government Capital Improvements Commission, to authorize boards of township trustees and boards of park commissioners to expend funds for the public purpose of presenting community events in their parks and other recreational facilities, and to expand the public infrastructure improvements townships, municipal corporations, and counties may pay for using money from their public improvement tax increment equivalent funds.
  • Am. Sub. HB No. 277 was passed upon third consideration to authorize a county, township, or municipal corporation to impose a 9-1-1 system levy in only the portion of the subdivision that would be served by the 9-1-1 system and to declare an emergency.

For questions or more information on MRR’s Ohio Legislation Updates, contact:

Stacy V. Pollock  – MRR Columbus
Phone: 614.324.0163
Email: spollock@mrrlaw.com

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