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State v. Jackson

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Tenth District

June 14, 2018

State of Ohio, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
Kareem M. Jackson, Defendant-Appellant.

          APPEAL from the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas C.P.C. No. 97CR-1902

         On brief:

          Ron O'Brien, Prosecuting Attorney, and Steven L. Taylor, for appellee.

          Timothy Young, Ohio Public Defender, Kathryn L. Sandford, and Randall L. Porter, for appellant.

          DECISION

          HORTON, J.

         {¶ 1} Defendant-appellant, Kareem M. Jackson, appeals from the decision of the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas that denied his motion for leave to file a new motion for a mitigation trial under Crim.R. 33. We affirm the decision of the trial court.

         {¶ 2} In 1998, Jackson was sentenced to death for the aggravated murders of Terrence Walker and Antonio Hunter. Jackson also received sentences of incarceration for convictions on multiple counts of kidnapping, aggravated robbery, and felonious assault. His convictions were affirmed on direct appeal. State v. Jackson, 92 Ohio St.3d 436 (2001). Jackson subsequently, and unsuccessfully, pursued relief through postconviction review in state court and a petition for habeas corpus in federal court. State v. Jackson, 10th Dist. No. 01AP-808, 2002-Ohio-3330; Jackson v. Bradshaw, 681 F.3d 753 (6th Cir.2012).

         {¶ 3} On January 11, 2017, Jackson filed a motion in the trial court for leave to file a motion for a new mitigation trial under Crim.R. 33. He argued that the decision of the United States Supreme Court in Hurst v. Florida, ___ U.S. ___, 136 S.Ct. 616 (2016), had rendered Ohio's death penalty statute unconstitutional under the Sixth and Fourteenth Amendments because Ohio's statute allows a judge to engage in independent fact finding after a jury's recommendation of a sentence of death. Thus, Jackson believed that the sentence he received was both contrary to law and based on insufficient factual findings, entitling him to a new mitigation trial under Crim.R. 33(A).

         {¶ 4} The trial court disagreed and denied Jackson's motion. (Nov. 7, 2017 Decision and Entry.) Jackson appealed, asserting the following assignment of error:

THE TRIAL COURT ERRED WHEN IT DENIED KAREEM JACKSON'S MOTION FOR LEAVE TO FILE HIS MOTION FOR A NEW MITIGATION TRIAL.

         {¶ 5} In Jackson's briefing, he noted that the precise issue he raised as grounds for relief was pending before the Supreme Court of Ohio in State v. Mason, S.Ct. No. 2017-0200. Accordingly, we stayed these proceedings until the opinion in that case was issued.

         {¶ 6} The Supreme Court rendered its decision in State v. Mason on April 18, 2018. State v. Mason, Ohio St.3d, 2018-Ohio-1462. In Mason, the Supreme Court held that Ohio's death penalty statute, R.C. 2929.03 through 2929.04, did not violate the Sixth or Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution under Hurst. Id. at ¶ 29-43. The Supreme Court distinguished Ohio's statute from the Florida death penalty statute that Hurst held was unconstitutional:

In Hurst, the court held that the Florida scheme violated the Sixth Amendment because it did not require the jury to find that Hurst was guilty of committing a specific aggravating circumstance. Hurst at ___, 136 S.Ct. at 622, 624.
Ohio law, in contrast, requires a jury to find the defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt of at least one aggravating circumstance, R.C. 2929.03(B), before the matter proceeds to the penalty phase, when the jury can recommend a death sentence. Ohio's scheme differs from Florida's ...

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