City of Centerville v. Knab, 111220 OHSC, 2019-0873

Docket Nº2019-0873
Opinion JudgeFRENCH, J.
Party NameThe City of Centerville, Appellant, v. Knab, Appellee.
AttorneyAltick & Corwin Co., L.P.A., Scott A. Liberman, and Steven E. Bacon, for appellant. Timothy Young, Ohio Public Defender, and Patrick T. Clark, Assistant Public Defender, for appellee. American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio Foundation, Elizabeth Bonham, Freda J. Levenson, and David J. Carey, urgin...
Judge PanelO'CONNOR, C.J., and FISCHER, DEWINE, and STEWART, JJ., concur. KENNEDY, J., concurs in judgment only, with an opinion. DONNELLY, J., concurs in judgment only. Kennedy, J., concurring in judgment only.
Case DateNovember 12, 2020
CourtSupreme Court of Ohio

2020-Ohio-5219

The City of Centerville, Appellant,

v.

Knab, Appellee.

No. 2019-0873

Supreme Court of Ohio

November 12, 2020

Submitted June 2, 2020

Appeal from the Court of Appeals for Montgomery County, No. 28081, 2019-Ohio-1903.

Altick & Corwin Co., L.P.A., Scott A. Liberman, and Steven E. Bacon, for appellant. Timothy Young, Ohio Public Defender, and Patrick T. Clark, Assistant Public Defender, for appellee.

American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio Foundation, Elizabeth Bonham, Freda J. Levenson, and David J. Carey, urging affirmance for amicus curiae American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio Foundation.

Southeastern Ohio Legal Services, Natasha A. Plumly, Ann M. Roche, and Adam D. Vincent, urging affirmance for amicus curiae Southeastern Ohio Legal Services.

Legal Aid Society of Columbus and Tabitha M. Woodruff, urging affirmance for amicus curiae Legal Aid Society of Columbus.

Community Legal Aid Services, Inc., and Susan M. Fitch, urging affirmance for amicus curiae Community Legal Aid Services, Inc.

Legal Aid Society of Cleveland, Alexandria Ruden, Thomas Mlakar, and Tonya Whitsett, urging affirmance for amicus curiae Legal Aid Society of Cleveland.

Legal Aid Society of Southwest Ohio, L.L.C., and John E. Schrider Jr., urging affirmance for amicus curiae Legal Aid Society of Southwest Ohio, L.L.C.

Advocates for Basic Legal Equality, Inc., and Heather L. Hall, urging affirmance for amicus curiae Advocates for Basic Legal Equality, Inc.

Legal Aid of Western Ohio, Inc., and LaTanya R. Wilson, urging affirmance for amicus curiae Legal Aid of Western Ohio, Inc.

Micaela C. Deming, urging affirmance for amicus curiae Ohio Domestic Violence Network.

FRENCH, J.

{¶ 1} In this appeal, we are asked to determine whether a municipal corporation is a "victim" as that word is used in Article I, Section 10a of the Ohio Constitution, a provision known as Marsy's Law. We hold that a municipality is not a victim and has no right to restitution under Marsy's Law. We therefore affirm the judgment of the Second District Court of Appeals, which reversed the trial court's judgment ordering appellee, Michael P. Knab, to make restitution to appellant, the city of Centerville.

I. FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

{¶ 2} On April 3, 2018, Knab called 9-1-1 and reported to a Centerville Police Department dispatcher that someone was "shooting up the place." The call disconnected, but the dispatcher called back. Knab answered and told the dispatcher that someone had been shot. Several officers from the Centerville Police Department and the fire department responded to the call. Mr. Carter, Knab's friend, was outside Knab's house when the officers arrived. Carter, who had been in the house, told the officers that there was no active shooter and that no one had been shot. He told the officers that Knab was inside and that Knab believed people were trying to shoot him.

{¶ 3} Knab's mother and father and a female guest were also at the residence when officers arrived. Knab's mother also told the officers that Knab believed people were trying to shoot him. Knab eventually came out of the house calmly.

{¶ 4} The officers searched the residence and confirmed that there were no active shooters and no one had been shot or otherwise injured. The officers obtained a warrant to search the property further. They found drug paraphernalia but they did not find any firearms.

{¶ 5} The officers took Knab to the Centerville Police Department for questioning. Knab claimed that he believed that Carter had a gun and was a threat to Knab and his family. Knab told the officer that he got Carter out of the house and then called 9-1-1 to report the threat.

{¶ 6} Knab was charged with making a false report to law enforcement, in violation of R.C. 2917.32(A)(3), a first-degree misdemeanor, and improper use of the 9-1-1 emergency system, in violation of R.C. 128.32, a fourth-degree misdemeanor. Following a bench trial, the trial court found him guilty on both counts.

{¶ 7} The city asked the trial court to order Knab to pay restitution to Centerville for the costs it had incurred responding to Knab's 9-1-1 call. At a hearing on the issue, Knab argued that Ohio law prohibited the trial court from ordering him to pay restitution. He also argued that there was no economic loss because the officers were already on duty and would have received their wages anyway. The city presented testimony from a police detective to support its request for restitution. The detective calculated Centerville's economic loss based on the labor costs paid by the city to the personnel who had responded to the call. He testified that the dispatcher and 11 officers, all of whom were already on duty, responded to Knab's 9-1-1 call because of the severity of the report. He calculated the time that the dispatcher and each responding officer spent responding to Knab's call and multiplied that figure by each person's regular hourly wage rate. He concluded that the police department's labor costs to respond to Knab's 9-1-1 call were $1, 375.56. The trial court ordered Knab to pay that amount to Centerville. The trial court also sentenced Knab to j ail, ordered him to pay a fine and to complete a drug-and-alcohol assessment, and placed him on supervised probation.

{¶ 8} Knab appealed his convictions and sentence, including the restitution order, to the Second District Court of Appeals. Knab argued that the trial court erred in ordering restitution because Centerville is not a victim to which restitution can be ordered under Ohio's restitution statute, R.C. 2929.28(A)(1), and because Centerville did not suffer economic loss when its public-safety agencies responded to his emergency call. Centerville argued that it was entitled to restitution because Marsy's Law expanded the definition of a "victim" to include a municipality.

{¶ 9} The court of appeals affirmed Knab's convictions while remanding on one count for resentencing, but it vacated the restitution order. The court held that Centerville was not a victim for the purposes of restitution when it was carrying out its official duties. In addition, the court held that Centerville did not experience "economic loss," as that term is used in R.C. 2929.28(A)(1), because all of the officers who responded to the emergency call were on duty and would have been paid regardless of Knab's actions.

{¶ 10} Centerville appealed the judgment of the Second District Court of Appeals. We accepted jurisdiction to consider whether a municipality is a victim under Marsy's Law, such that it is entitled to restitution when it is directly and proximately harmed by the commission of a criminal offense.

II. MARSY'S LAW

{¶ 11} Article I of Ohio's Constitution is commonly known as Ohio's Bill of Rights. Section 10a of that article was amended in 2017, effective February 5, 2018. Because the circumstances surrounding the national movement and the Marsy's Law initiative in Ohio further support our determination that a municipality is not a victim under Marsy's Law, it is helpful to review the context in which the law was adopted.

{¶ 12} Known as Marsy's Law, the provision arose from a national victims'-rights movement. The website for the movement explains that it was started by an individual whose sister, Marsy, was killed by her ex-boyfriend. https://www.marsyslaw.us/about_marsys_law (accessed July 9, 2020) [https://perma.cc/NT9H-QZLK]. Marsy's mother encountered the killer on the way home from Marsy's funeral service after he had been released on bail. The family was not notified of the ex-boyfriend's release because no law required that the court or law enforcement keep Marsy's family informed. The movement seeks to give crime victims constitutional rights that are equal to the rights of individuals accused of committing crimes.

{¶ 13} Consistent with this national movement, the Ohio amendment initiative sought to give crime victims and their families meaningful and enforceable rights.

{¶ 14} Before Marsy's Law was adopted in Ohio, Article I, Section 10a of the Ohio Constitution established some general rights for crime victims. But it gave the General Assembly primary authority to define and provide those rights. Former Article 1, Section 10a of the Ohio Constitution (effective Nov. 8, 1994).

{¶ 15} When the Marsy's Law initiative was placed on the 2017 general-election ballot, the language informed voters that the proposed amendment would expand the rights of victims and require that those rights be protected as vigorously as the rights of the accused. It indicated that the purpose of the amendment was to ensure "due process, respect, fairness, and justice for crime victims and their families." The ballot language then listed the rights the proposed amendment would provide to victims: • the right to privacy and to be treated with respect, fairness, and dignity;

• the right to information about the rights and services available to crime victims;

• the right to notification in a timely manner of all proceedings in the case;

• the right to be present and heard at all court proceedings, including the right to petition the court to protect the victim's rights;

• the right to a prompt conclusion of the case;

• to refuse discovery requests made by the accused, except as authorized by Article I, Section 10 of the Ohio constitution;

• the right to reasonable protection from the accused;

• the right to notice of the release or escape of the accused; and

• the right to restitution.

The ballot language did not include a definition for "victim."

{¶ 16} As adopted, Marsy's Law states that its express purpose is to secure justice and due process for victims and provide rights to victims that must be...

To continue reading

FREE SIGN UP