Monthly Archives: November 2013

A Cap on Trust: The Ohio General Assembly Should Trust Ohioans to Make Tough Decisions

Author: Melissa Schuett, Associate Member, University of Cincinnati Law Review

Since the infamous “McDonald’s hot coffee” case in 1994,[1] tort reform legislation has led to the imposition of caps on damages in civil actions in many states across the country, including Ohio.  These caps require judges to disregard any amount a jury awards that is over the statutorily imposed limit. The purpose of this oversight is to avoid frivolous lawsuits and emotionally-driven plaintiff verdicts.  But the question remains whether this distrust of a jury’s ability to separate fact from emotion is inherently contradictory to state statutes that require a jury to decide whether to sentence a criminal defendant to death. Assuming the validity of tort reform, Ohio’s implementation of hard damage caps in civil cases creates an inconsistency with the trust afforded juries in criminal proceedings. This statutory contradiction in trust should be resolved by affording the same level of trust to Ohio civil juries as Ohio does to criminal juries; the General Assembly’s placement of stronger restraints on civil juries is contrary to the principals set forth in the Sixth Amendment, which places the greatest protection of a defendant in the purview of the jury.

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Ducking Duties: Pseudonymous Plaintiffs and the Supreme Court of Ohio

Author: Ryan Shiverdecker, Associate Member, University of Cincinnati Law Review
On March 19, 2013, in Doe v. Bruner, an Ohio appeals court denied the plaintiff, an alleged victim of sexual assault and molestation, his request to proceed anonymously.[i] After initially accepting the plaintiff’s appeal, the Supreme Court of Ohio dismissed the case as being improvidently granted, balking on an opportunity to provide clarity in an area of law that is murky and unsettled.[ii] Jurisdictions are split on the requirements that an individual must satisfy in order to proceed anonymously. The Supreme Court’s failure to take this case and create a legal standard will result in more disparate holdings in Ohio cases dealing with pseudonymous plaintiffs. The court should have adopted a factor-based test that effectively balances the plaintiff’s privacy rights with the presumption of open judicial proceedings.