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November 4, 2023

Ohio's common law necessity doctrines (aided by a decade-old, inspired student analysis of D&S in Ohio)

As we will discuss in the coming weeks, Ohio's common-law approach to defenses extends to the classic defenses of necessity and duress.  Though the modern common-law cases we will review in the casebook are not from Ohio, they provide a generally effective accounting of how Ohio courts will be inclined to review claims of duress and necessity.  For example, the Ohio Supreme Court decades ago had a case, State v. Cross, 58 Ohio St.2d 482 (Ohio 1979), somewhat similar to the Unger case in its legal holding (though involving somewhat different facts).

And, helpfully, one member of my criminal law class ten years ago had the great initiative to imagine how a modern-day variation on the Dudley and Stephens case  might get resolved in Ohio under its common-law defenses scheme.  That student allowed me to post her analysis, and here is how she sets up the factual context:

Let's imagine a scenario in which four avid hikers, all associated with Ohio’s State Parks, decide to go for a winter hike at Serpent Mound, located in idyllic Adams County, Ohio.  The group consists of Hatlen Brooks, a veteran tour guide, Dursley Dudley and Richard Stephens, members of the Ohio State Parks administration, and Peter Parker, a trainee guide, though noted as a talented climber.  The hike was predicted to be an easy one and take no more than a few hours to complete; it was more-so an excursion to view the aforementioned idyllic landscape.  The hikers deviated from the path because of an intense and unpredicted snowstorm that caught the band off-guard and limited their ability to navigate.  The band happened upon a previously unknown sinkhole that had formed sometime after the last ranger appraisal of the land (which has been some-time ago with state budget cuts).  The group was stranded on a rocky, but stable, covered corner of the hole with only snow for hydration and a 2lb bag of vegan trail mix Stephens brought on the trip.  Despite the group’s reluctance to eat vegan, they subsisted off the mix and an unlucky rabbit for 18 days.

Download Prosecuting Dudley & Stephens in Ohio

November 4, 2023 in Course materials and schedule, Notable real cases | Permalink


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