In the realm of law and justice, few achievements are as illustrious as taking a case to the United States Supreme Court. At the Hamilton County Public Defender’s Office, we recently celebrated two remarkable journeys to the highest court in the land, reflecting our commitment to upholding constitutional rights and securing justice for those we represent.
Jessica Moss and the Triumph for D.R. (Case No. 22-864)
Jessica Moss, a dedicated advocate from our Youth Defense Division, stood resolute as she represented a minor, D.R., in opposition to the Petition for a Writ of Certiorari filed by the Hamilton County Prosecutor’s Office in United States Supreme Court, Case No. 22-864.
D.R.’s story began with an adjudication that classified him as a Tier I sex offender, carrying the lowest level of classification and the least restrictive reporting requirements. However, as his sentence concluded, the Hamilton County Juvenile Court determined it lacked the discretion to remove him from mandatory sex registration obligations.
The journey of legal battles unfolded as the First District reversed the Juvenile Court’s decision, and an affirmation by the Ohio Supreme Court followed, citing constitutional clauses. Jessica Moss opposed the state’s cert petition.
The pivotal question presented was whether the Fourteenth Amendment’s Due Process Clause entitled juvenile sex offenders to hearings where courts had discretion to lift statutorily mandated sex offender registration obligations. Jessica and Professor Banner reframed the question to challenge the Ohio Supreme Court’s decision.
On June 12, 2023, the Supreme Court denied the State’s petition, refusing to review the case. Jessica and Professor Banner prevailed on
behalf of D.R., who was freed from any sex offender registration requirements.
Sarah Nelson’s Battle for Fourth Amendment Rights (Case No. 22-978)
Sarah Nelson, an exceptional attorney from our Appellate Division, alongside Professor Banner, represented Jackie Jackson in filing a Petition for a Writ of Certiorari to review the judgment of the Supreme Court of Ohio in the United States Supreme Court, Case No. 22-978.
The heart of the matter revolved around a critical question: “Where one police officer opens the door of a car, and another officer looks through the open door for contraband, have the police conducted a ‘search’ of the car within the meaning of the Fourth Amendment?”
The Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution safeguards against unreasonable searches and seizures, a cornerstone of individual rights. In this case, a seemingly routine traffic stop unfolded into a complex legal battle. As eight officers converged on Mr. Jackson’s car, suspicions of dark window tint arose, yet none of them possessed a window tint meter.
One officer opened the car door, while another looked inside and discovered a weapon, leading to charges against Mr. Jackson. His motion to suppress the evidence was denied, and the Ohio Supreme Court affirmed this decision by a vote of 5-2.
While hope lingered for the acceptance of this case by the United States Supreme Court, it was dashed when news arrived that the petition was denied.
Celebrating Dedication and Resilience
Regardless of the outcomes, these two cases underscore the unwavering commitment of our legal professionals to protect the rights and liberties of our clients. We take pride in the tireless work of our attorneys and staff, who champion justice every day.
Please join us in congratulating Jessica and Sarah. Their dedication and resilience exemplify the values we hold dear at the Hamilton County Public Defender’s Office as we continue to strive for justice for all.