A Pleasure to Meet You

A product of the law, now and always

By  A.J. Wagner

Wagner on the bench.

Introductions are boring. They are not the stuff of good writing, good entertainment or good journalism. Try sitting down in front of a pile of resumes without a cup of coffee or a can of Jolt and see how fast you fall asleep.

Yet, here I am about to tell you something of myself so you have some context should you be a regular reader of this column.  Some of you already know me because of my 20+ years as Montgomery County auditor and as a Common Pleas Court judge. Some of you know me as a children’s author and have read my books, which are far different than this column. Others know me from my work with non-profits and with the University of Dayton. Bored yet?

Actually, there is one fact about me that seems to be of interest to others. I was born into poverty as the son of a traveling salesman and a stay-at-home mother. I was their third child and first son. That’s pretty boring, but there’s more.

My parents went on to have 15 more children after me. That’s a total of 18 children. It wasn’t my idea. It was the idea of a loving couple whose faith in God let them believe we were 18 beautiful gifts from heaven given with a providence that would provide. Out of that situation I became who I am – a product of a wonderful family and a product of the law.

I was in first grade when my sister, Janice, died in her sleep before she was two months old. My dad was on the road and could not be reached. When he came home he vowed never to leave home again. The thought of his baby dying without him knowing was too much. So he took a job as a teacher. As a teacher he was provided a modest wage by virtue of the law. The local school board, created by law, approved the contract that provided the salary my dad would earn. In turn, not long after he became a teacher, I was able to get my first pair of Keds All Stars. Thus, the law allowed me to be the first child in my family to own a pair of sneakers, which, in turn, allowed me to play basketball on my grade school team.

When I was young (I am now 59), laws were passed to give those who were poor what was called “surplus food.” In third grade I would get out of school, take a cart and roll it up to City Hall where it was loaded with powdered milk, peanut butter, powdered eggs, flour, butter, cheese, canned meats and a few other items. Thus, the law provided for our family to be fed. I will not tell you my current weight.

I would not be a college graduate, I would not be a lawyer and I would not have been county auditor or judge without the National Defense Student Loan Program and Pell Grants. These programs were made possible by another set of laws that provided grants and loans for those who could not otherwise afford a higher education.
Add in the laws that created opportunities for public office and you see how my successful life has been made possible by laws. Yours is likely the same.

If you received a public education – grade school, high school or college – laws were instrumental in your life’s achievements. If you went to private schools, laws are still influential in the curriculum, standards and outcomes that made you who you are. There is barely a private college in the United States that doesn’t receive public dollars that influence the education of those attending.

My point is that laws are pervasive in our lives. They are the brick and mortar of our society where legislatures act as architects and lawyers as masons.

We use laws constantly as we drive down public roads, walk on public sidewalks, feel the cool and warmth from our public utilities, drink from publicly produced water supplies and hold jobs or own stock in publicly traded companies authorized to exist by corporate laws.

As the new writer of “Law & Disorder” I will write about some situational issues, but I will also write about the laws that touch our lives in many ways we don’t know or understand.

I am a product of many things – my parents, my 17 siblings, my faith system, my teachers, my heroes and my enemies to name a few.  I am also a product of the law. And, like it or not, so are you.

Disclaimer: The content herein is for entertainment and information only. Do not use this as a legal consultation. Every situation has different nuances that can affect the outcome and laws change without notice. If you’re in a situation that calls for legal advice, get a lawyer. You represent yourself at your own risk. The author, the Dayton City Paper and its affiliates shall have no liability stemming from your use of the information contained herein.

A.J. Wagner is an attorney with the law firm of Flanagan, Lieberman, Hoffman and Swaim at 15 W. Fourth Street in Dayton. A.J. and his firm would be glad to help you with all of your legal needs. You can reach A.J. at (937) 223-5200 or  at AJWagner@DaytonCityPaper.com.

Side Bar

Decisions of interest from the Supreme Court of Ohio and the Second District Court of Appeals

The Supreme Court and the Second District Court of Appeals issue case summaries for the convenience of the public, the bench and the bar. They are a brief statement of the holding of the court in the matter noted. They are not to be considered headnotes or syllabi. Readers may obtain copies of an opinion from the particular county’s clerk of courts. The full text of each opinion is also available at the Ohio Supreme Court Website at www.sconet.state.oh.us

From the Supreme Court
State v. Everette, Slip Opinion No. 2011-Ohio-2856
For purposes of determining when the 180-day time period for filing a post-conviction relief petition shall accrue, only the certified, written transcript constitutes a “transcript” when both a videotape recording and the written form of the proceedings are available.

From the Second District Court of Appeals
State of Ohio v. Rondal Adkins Greene App. No. 2010-CA-69
The trial court correctly concluded that defendant’s post-release control was mandatory but erred by making it “up to” five years, when it was five years. The Ohio Supreme Court’s holding in State vFischer, 128 Ohio St.3d 92, 2010-Ohio-6238, can only be interpreted to hold that the post-release control portion of the appellant’s sentence is void. Because he completed his sentence without the error being corrected, the appellant cannot now be subjected to a period of post-release control. The portion of the trial court’s sentencing entry imposing post-release control is vacated.

Don E. Cox, et al. v. The Miami County Board of Zoning Appeals  Miami App. No. 2010-CA-29
Trial court did not abuse its discretion in finding that a fence surrounding an enclosure is a “building” for purposes of a township zoning code, and affirming the decision to grant a conditional use permit on that basis.

State of Ohio v. Tommie Johnson, Jr.  Montgomery App. No. 24031
Trial court did not err when it did not merge kidnapping offenses involving the same victims that did not involve the same conduct.

State of Ohio v. Charles B. Lowery  Montgomery App. No. 24198
Appellant claims the trial court erred when it dismissed his petition for post-conviction relief. Appellant argues that his criminal convictions were based on a defective indictment, which deprived the trial court of subject matter jurisdiction to convict him. Because Appellant cannot raise the issue of a defective indictment in an untimely petition for post-conviction relief and because Appellant’s claims are barred by res judicata, we disagree.

State of Ohio v. Charles S. Kinsinger  Montgomery App. No. 23966
Defendant pled no contest to various crimes related to his sexual conduct with children. Later, Defendant filed post-sentence motion to withdraw his pleas, which the Trial Court denied without holding an evidentiary hearing. Trial Court did not abuse its discretion because Defendant failed to establish that the withdrawals of his pleas were necessary to correct a manifest injustice. The evidence against Defendant was overwhelming. Furthermore, Defendant did not receive ineffective assistance of counsel, and police interviews of the minor victims did not have constitutional implications for Defendant.

State of Ohio v. Rick A. Harding  Montgomery App. No. 24062
Defendant convicted of three counts of felonious assault after a bench trial. Defendant contends that (1) the trial court’s determination that he did not act in self-defense was against the manifest weight of the evidence; and (2) the trial court should have convicted him of the lesser offense of aggravated assault. Because defendant (1) violated his duty to retreat and (2) did not introduce sufficient evidence to show that he was acting under the influence of rage or passion, we disagree.

State of Ohio v. Jeremiah K. Gaddis Case No.: Montgomery App. No. 24007
Defendant convicted of endangering children under R.C. 2919.22. Trial court did not err when it denied Defendant’s motion to suppress his statements to police because, under these circumstances, a reasonable person would not have believed that he was in custody.  Further, (1) sufficient evidence supports the conviction, and (2) it is not against the manifest weight of the evidence. That is, (1) after viewing the evidence in a light most favorable to the State, any rational trier of fact could have found the essential elements of endangering children proven beyond a reasonable doubt; and (2) substantial evidence exists upon which the trier of fact could have reasonably concluded that all the elements of endangering children were proven beyond a reasonable doubt.

A.J. Wagner is an attorney with the law firm of Flanagan, Lieberman, Hoffman and Swaim at 15 W. Fourth Street in Dayton. A.J. and his firm would be glad to help you with all of your legal needs. You can reach A.J. at (937) 223-5200 or at AJWagner@DaytonCityPaper.com.

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