Ohio v. Johnson

LOCATION: Men’s Central Jail

DOCKET NO.: 83-904
DECIDED BY: Burger Court (1981-1986)
LOWER COURT: Ohio Supreme Court

CITATION: 467 US 493 (1984)
ARGUED: Apr 25, 1984
DECIDED: Jun 11, 1984

Albert L. Purola - on behalf of the Respondent
John E. Shoop - on behalf of the Petitioner

Facts of the case


Media for Ohio v. Johnson

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - April 25, 1984 in Ohio v. Johnson

Warren E. Burger:

We'll hear arguments next in Ohio v. Johnson.

Mr. Shoop, you may proceed whenever you're ready.

John E. Shoop:

Mr. Chief Justice and may it please the Court, on January 25, 1979, one Thomas Hill was shot to death at his apartment in the City of Mentor on the Lake, Lake County, State of Ohio.

The defendant in this case was arrested within 12 hours, and a preliminary hearing was held within five days in Mentor Municipal Court.

But the defendant/respondent, was released because the city prosecutor only charged the defendant with murder, and at the preliminary hearing stage, failed to introduce a certified copy of Thomas Hill's death certificate.

As a result, the charge of murder was dismissed, and Thomas Hill was released, and his bond released also.

Subsequently, on February 13, 1979, the Lake County Grand Jury found probable cause existed to believe that the defendant, respondent in this case, had violated four separate criminal statutes and returned one indictment charging this defendant/respondent with one count each of murder, involuntary manslaughter, aggravated robbery, and grand theft.

The defendant/respondent had already filed the jurisdiction before the Grand Jury indictment had returned.

And 20 months later he was apprehended in the State of Tennessee and returned to the State of Ohio.

On October 9, 1980, the defendant/respondent appeared before the Lake County Common Pleas Court for the purposes of arraignment on the aforementioned indictment.

At that point, he proffered pleas of guilty to involuntary manslaughter and grand theft, and not guilty pleas to murder and aggravated robbery.

The State objected.

Bond was set, and the case assigned to a different trial court, which had then to decide whether to accept the proffered pleas of guilty which the first court reserved ruling upon.

On November 26, 1980, following written arguments, without any testimony or evidence even proffered, the trial court was persuaded by the defendant/respondent to exercise its discretion and accepted the guilty pleas on involuntary manslaughter and grand theft.

At the... going back for a moment--

Warren E. Burger:

Mr. Shoop, is that a common practice in Ohio for the judge to refuse the prosecution's demand to go on to trial?

The prosecution was asking to go to trial on all the issues?

John E. Shoop:


Warren E. Burger:

Is this a common thing, this event that occurred here?

John E. Shoop:

The event is not directed at whether or not it's common to reject the prosecutor's plea.

Most of the courts in Ohio accept recommendations from the prosecuting attorney and so forth on various events.

As far as written guilty pleas or pleas at the arraignment, this was a unique situation evidenced by the trial court.

The initial... the arraigning judge's initial comments when the guilty pleas were proffered, and he said,

"This is unusual; we will have to think about this. "

"Does everyone know what is happening? "

"Do you recognize the consequences of this? "

And at that point, the trial attorney responded,

"Yes. "

"This may anticipate some... double jeopardy provisions may be implicated here. "

Warren E. Burger: