Please click the below link for access to the live interview on July 21st, 2011. Mr. Moorman discusses the Stacey Schuler and Marcus Israel cases with Meghan Mongillo at the ABC22/FOX45 studio in Dayton.
Dayton’s News Source :: Good Morning – Local Attorney Insight on Stacy Schuler Case: http://t.co/W4b17wi
You can also find us on our website at http://www.diehlhubbell.com!
Our condolences go out to Officer Dulle and his family. What a tragic scene, in which thirty-six year old Brian Dulle was killed while performing his duties as a Warren County Police Officer. Dulle was putting out stop-sticks along the roadway on St. Rt. 42 when Marcus Israel allegedly ran into Officer Dulle at over 100 miles per hour, killing him instantly. Israel has been charged with involuntary manslaughter and failure to comply with a police officer, facing fifteen years in prison if he is convicted. At the arraignment in Lebanon Municipal Court Thursday, Israel apologized to Officer Dulle’s family. Israel is being held on a one million dollar bond. What a great loss to the community – What an irresponsible and reckless act. The suspect decided to trade a tail-light violation for a manslaughter charge.
By: Gabe Moorman, Attorney and Counselor at Law at Diehl & Hubbell, LLC
304 East Warren Street, Lebanon, OH 45036
By Marty Hubbell
What’s next in the Ryan Widmer case? Expect the defense to file a motion for a new trial in the next few days. This motion must be filed within 14 days of the verdict that was rendered on February 15, 2011.
This motion is critical for Widmer’s case, and is separate from the appeal of his actual murder conviction. His appeal would be to the 12th District Court of Appeals in Middletown, Ohio; the motion for a new trial would be heard by Judge Bronson in the Warren County Common Pleas Court. The appeal will not be filed until the upcoming motion is resolved in the trial court.
Why is this motion for a new trial important? The 12th District Court of Appeals is probably the most conservative appellate court in the State of Ohio; less criminal convictions are overturned in this court than in any other appellate district. If he cannot persuade Judge Bronson to grant him a new trial, it is likely that the next significant hearing for Ryan Widmer will occur in about 14.5 years, at his first parole hearing.
The defense attorneys are scrambling to find any and all evidence they can to support the motion. From the press releases thus far, it appears that they are going to try to argue some form of juror misconduct.
By: Tom Diehl (In 2008)
In the last edition of the Co-Counsel Reporter, we discussed the pitfalls occasioned by the recent modifications and abrogation of joint and several liability as set forth in SB 120. Specifically, if a defendant can convince the trier of fact that a different defendant has some liability for the injuries sustained, the defendants will be liable for the overall damages only according to their percentage of liability. This can have disastrous consequences if the “other defendant” is not a party to the suit or is judgment proof.To help minimize the potential for disastrous consequences, plaintiff's counsel should consider these strategies: * File discovery early requesting the defendant to identify and specify any other defendants allegedly having liability for injuries caused. Consider, submitting requests for admissions demanding defendant to deny the existence of other liable defendants; * In the initial complaint, bring claims against all potential liable party defendants;* When partially settling with the joint tortfeasor, release only that tortfeasor; * Consider filing a challenge to the constitutionality of SB120 -- send a copy of the challenge to the Ohio Attorney General. Grounds for potential constitutional challenge include an argument that SB 120 violates Article II Section 15 (One Subject Rule) or Article IV Section 5 (Separation of Powers). At Thomas J. Diehl & Co., LLC, we have been handling personal injury claims in Southwest Ohio since 1988. We regularly work with counsel in ethical fee sharing arrangements. Thomas J. Diehl is a Fellow of the Litigation Counsel of America and a member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum. http://www.ThomasJDiehl.com
By Marty Hubbell
The Ryan Widmer jury deliberations continue into the second day.
I was in the courthouse this morning, and saw the bathtub that the jurors must walk past to get to the jury room. I’m sure that is a sobering thought as they begin their deliberations.
Yesterday the prosecution requested that Judge Bronson read an instruction on the lessor offense of involuntary manslaughter. The defense objected, but secretly I think they welcome this option.
If the jury cannot reach a unanimous verdict on the murder charge, they then can discuss the lessor charge of involuntary manslaughter. Oftentimes, this scenario leads to what is called a compromise verdict. In my experience, when given two options, and the case is not open-and-shut, juries will choose the lessor charge as a compromise.
This has already happened in this case. In the first Widmer trial, the jury was presented with two options: aggravated murder and murder. They found him not guilty of aggravated murder but guilty of murder.
In the second trial, the jury just had to consider the murder charge. Depending on which report you believe, the jury was deadlocked 8-4 or 10-2 in favor of guilt.
Now, the jury will consider the murder charge and the lessor charge of involuntary manslaughter. I think this jury will reach a verdict, and most likely on the lower charge.
What does this mean for Ryan Widmer? On the murder charge he is facing a mandatory sentence of 15 years to life in prison. On the manslaughter charge he is facing one to five years in prison. Given that he has no prior record, the Court could consider placing him on community control (probation), with no additional jail/prison time.
By Marty Hubbell
Closing arguments ended today in Ryan Widmer’s third trial for the murder of his wife. This was the attorneys’ opportunity to tell the jury what they believed the evidence showed throughout the case. The jury will be instructed that the arguments of counsel are not to be considered as evidence.
After closing arguments the judge read the jury instructions and the jurors entered the jury room for deliberations. All of the exhibits will accompany them, together with the verdict forms.
Some thoughts on the Widmer case:
1. Truth really is stranger than fiction. This case has a lead detective who lied on his police application, a surprise witness that used to work in an Iowa strip joint, a third murder trial, and a married female witness who flew in from Seattle to support the defendant. And, of course, an expert who worked on the Kennedy assassination and testified at the O.J. Simpson murder trial.
2. The State’s surprise witness, Jennifer Crew, testified that Ryan Widmer confessed the murder to her. This witness walked into court with quite a bit of baggage. But the State had to call her as a witness, as a confession will certainly make jurors’ ears perk up.
That being said, her credibility is in question based upon her prior criminal record and past life choices. I spoke to multiple people in the courtroom during her testimony, and they gave her testimony a grade from lukewarm to good.
3. I think the defense team doesn’t expect a NOT GUILTY verdict. They would like one, but such a finding will be even more difficult after the confession testimony from Jennifer Crew. Keep in mind, in the two previous trials, depending on which version you believe, either 22/24 or 20/24 jurors have voted GUILTY at the end of the day.
My guess is the defense would be tickled pink to have another hung jury.
4. People ask me whether Ryan Widmer should testify. The answer: hell no. Rest assured that throughout the three trials Ryan has been prepped and coached to testify, just in case. My guess is that he has done very poorly in these practice examinations.
5. One of the confusing parts of the Law is reconciling guilt with proof. It is entirely possible that a person can be guilty of an offense, but the State lacks the ability to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
When would this happen? All the time. This morning I drove to the airport with almost no traffic on the road. A portion of I-71 near downtown Cincinnati has a 55 m.p.h. speed limit. I sped. Although I am technically guilty of this offense, without additional evidence the State would never be able to prove my guilt beyond a reasonable doubt (even with my admission!).
A defendant is presumed innocent of a crime. The State carries the burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. If that burden is not met, it is a juror’s duty to sign the NOT GUILTY verdict form. Suspicion or ‘probably did it’ does not suffice.
6. freeryanwidmer.com was a website created to assist Ryan Widmer in the defense of his case. This is also the website used by the State’s surprise witness, Jennifer Crew, to get in touch with Ryan. The only real new evidence in this third trial is her testimony. If convicted, how ironic would it be that the group formed to raise money for Ryan Widmer assisted in his ultimate conviction?
By: Gabe Moorman
I have been asked by Meghan Mongillo, Dayton’s Fox-45 “In the Morning” co-anchor, to be a guest on their live TV broadcast. I will be answering questions regarding the law and commenting on some of the high profile legal cases in Southwest Ohio. Specifically, we will be discussing the Ryan Widmer and Stacy Shuler cases.
The Widmer trial is approaching its final stage, as the attorneys for both sides will offer their closing arguments on Monday, February 14, 2011. The jury will then begin its deliberation and a verdict will be read by the bailiff at the Warren County Court of Common Pleas in Lebanon, Ohio. It is likely that people from across the country will be listening intently – as will I.
The Shuler trial has not yet started, but interest in the case has been very high from the start. Ms. Shuler was recently indicted on nineteen felony counts of sexual battery along with three misdemeanor counts. She stands accused of having sexual contact with five Mason High School students, most of them believed to be on the football team. Shuler, who recently resigned as a physical education teacher and athletic trainer, has been released and is currently living with her parents pending her trial. Stacy Shuler has been ordered to wear an electronic monitoring device and have no contact with any of the alleged victims or any minors.
I am excited to join Ms. Mongillo at the Fox-45 studio in Dayton and hope to share some interesting and informative perspectives. Please tune in from 7:00 to 9:00 AM.
By: Tom Diehl (in 2008)
Plaintiff: Doctor, Did my client incur these medical bills as a result of her motor vehicle accident?
In just about any personal injury action, a primary goal for Plaintiff’s counsel is to introduce medical bills and medical records pertaining to the underlying cause. There is a certain procedure that should be followed to ensure this admissibility (and to reduce attorney stress) so that the example above does not occur.
In order for medical bills to be admissible, the charges must be: (1) reasonable and necessary; and (2) proximately caused by the motor vehicle accident. The first element (reasonableness) can usually be established simply by providing opposing counsel with a copy of the bill five days prior to trial.
“In an action for damages arising from personal injury, a written bill . . . itemized by date, type of service rendered, and charge, shall . . . be prima facie evidence of the reasonableness of any charges and fees . . . provided such bill . . . delivered to attorney of record for each adverse party not less than five days before trial.” O.R.C. §2312.421
Just establishing that the charge was reasonable, however, does not make the bill automatically admissible. After all, charges incurred for treating a cold are not admissible in a claim for injuries from a motor vehicle accident. Proof must be provided that the charges were necessitated as a direct and proximate result of the accident. Typically, this will require expert medical testimony. See e.g. Lasley v. Nguyen (2007), 172 Ohio App.3d 741 (holding that plaintiff claiming neck injury from motor vehicle accident was not qualified to render opinion as to the cause of her medical injuries and that medical testimony was required.)
To be admissible, a medical opinion on causation must be stated to a reasonable degree of medical probability. Stenson v. England (1994), 69 Ohio. St.3d 451. Thus, the following example establishes the introduction of medical bills
Plaintiff: Doctor, let me hand you a copy of the emergency room bill, which I supplied to opposing counsel two weeks ago. Do you have an opinion to a reasonable degree of medical probability as to whether these charges were necessitated as a direct and proximate result of the car crash?
Plaintiff: What is that opinion?
Doctor: The charges were necessitated because of the car crash.
At Thomas J. Diehl & Co., LLC, we have been handling personal injury claims in Southwest Ohio since 1988. We regularly work with counsel in ethical fee sharing arrangements. Thomas J. Diehl is a Fellow of the Litigation Counsel of America and a member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum.