APPEALS from the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas C.P.C.
Nos. 16CV-2104, 16CV-2492
Timothy Young, Ohio Public Defender, and Katherine A. Szudy,
Yost], Attorney General, and Zachary Huffman for appellant
State of Ohio, Attorney General, [Dave Yost].
1} Defendant-appellant, the State of Ohio
("State"), through its Attorney General, appeals
from a judgment of the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas
granting, in part, the Civ.R. 12(C) motions for judgment on
the pleadings of plaintiffs-appellees, Harmon Lingle and Mark
Grosser (collectively "appellees"). The State
presents the following, sole assignment of error for our
The Common Pleas Court erroneously granted Appellees'
Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings where it found that
Appellees were "entitled to a hearing whereat they must
prove by clear and convincing evidence that they are not
likely to commit a sexually-oriented offense in the
future." [ ] The applicable section of the Ohio Revised
Code does not grant a Court jurisdiction to hold such a
hearing, make such determination, or to alter a sexual
predator's registration requirements if it is found that
the offender is not likely to recidivate.
2} For the reasons that follow, we reverse.
FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
3} On February 26 and March 10, 2016, respectively,
appellees filed separate complaints against the State and the
Sheriff of Franklin County. Through their complaints,
appellees sought declaratory judgments from the court
regarding their rights, status, and other legal relations
under former R.C. 2950.09 and State v. Williams, 129
Ohio St.3d 344, 2011-Ohio-3374. Appellees were both
classified as sexual predators in this State after they moved
to Ohio from Florida.
4} Lingle was indicted on May 18, 1990 for
committing a lewd and lascivious act, in violation of
Fla.Stat. 800.04. Lingle pled guilty to the charge, and
ultimately served a prison sentence after violating his
probation. On Lingle's release from prison in 1998,
Lingle began registering as a sexual offender in Florida.
Lingle moved to Ohio in 2008, and was originally classified
as a sexually-oriented offender. In January 2012, the Ohio
Attorney General informed Lingle that his classification had
been changed to that of sexual predator.
5} Grosser was indicted on June 29, 2007 for two
counts of solicitation of a child over the internet, in
violation of Fla.Stat. 847.0135(3), and one count of
transmission of material harmful to minors, in violation of
Fla.Stat. 847.0138(2). Grosser pled no contest to the
charges. The Florida court found Grosser guilty, sentenced
him to six months in jail, and classified him as a sexual
offender. Grosser moved to Ohio in 2008, and was originally
classified as a Tier I offender. In February 2012, the Ohio
Attorney General informed Grosser that his classification had
been changed to sexual predator.
6} As their respective crimes both occurred before
the January 1, 2008 effective date of 2007 Am.Sub.S.B. No.
10, appellees alleged that they were bound to comply with the
provisions of R.C. Chapter 2950 which were in place before
that date. Appellees asserted that, under R.C. 2950.09(F),
they could petition the court to request removal of their
Ohio sexual predator classification. Appellees admitted that
their Florida convictions were substantially equivalent to
offenses listed in former R.C. 2950.01(D)(1)(a), (b), (c), or
(d). See Lingle Compl. at ¶ 23; Grosser Compl.
at ¶ 26. Appellees alleged that their Florida
convictions did not obligate them to register for life in
7} Appellees attached Fla.Stat. 775.21, identifying
the registration requirements for Florida sexual predators,
and Fla.Stat. 943.0435, identifying the registration
requirements for Florida sexual offenders, to their
complaints. Appellees noted that, while both statutes
appeared to obligate those subject to the statutes to
register for life, sexual offenders, unlike sexual predators,
could petition the court to request removal "from the
registry in accordance with the statute's mandates."
(Grosser Compl. at ¶ 30; Lingle Compl. at ¶ 27.)
8} Appellees sought an order from the court
declaring that the State and the Sheriff had incorrectly
classified them as sexual predators, and further declaring
that they should have been classified as sexually-oriented
offenders. Alternatively, appellees both sought orders
declaring that they were entitled to a hearing to present
evidence demonstrating that, under Ohio law, they would have
been adjudicated sexually-oriented offenders, not sexual
9} On June 1 and June 22, 2016, respectively,
appellees filed separate Civ.R. 12(C) motions for judgment on
the pleadings. The State and the Sheriff filed memoranda
contra the appellees' motions. On October 26, ...