Today I thought I’d do #3 in my series on how judges cheat. In Part 1 I told the story of a barefoot Sarah Feldt at a Marriott, and how those judges reinterpreted the plain language of a statute. In Part 2 I discussed my library lawsuits, and how the judges there just ignored arguments (and evidence) that they didn’t like.
Today I’ll look at a different lawsuit I filed against the Ohio State Fair.
I’d been going to the Fair for a long time barefoot. They always had a sign, but I just pretty much ignored it.
But then one time I got stopped (and nearly arrested for criminal trespass), so I sued them.
The main basis for this lawsuit was a bit different that my other lawsuits. Yes, I still included the bit about how my going barefoot didn’t hurt anybody else and it was part of my freedom, but the main thrust was elsewhere.
From all of my discussion about the Statehouse rule, you ought to have a pretty good idea how rulemaking works with Ohio state agencies (and the Ohio State Fair, or I should say, the Ohio Expo Center, which runs the Fair, is officially a state agency.
Anyways, they way they enact rules is that the rule is passed by their Commission, it then goes before JCARR (the Joint Committee on Agency Rule Review), and if they don’t invalidate the rule, it becomes effective. Along the way, the rule gets published in the Register of Ohio, and once finalized, it appears in the Ohio Administrative Code.
That is the way Ohio law works. Any rule that isn’t promulgated in this fashion is invalid. In fact, in the Ohio Revised Code, in §121.22(H), it says,
(H) A resolution, rule, or formal action of any kind is invalid unless adopted in an open meeting of the public body.
And in case there would be any doubt that a barefoot rule was actually a “rule”, here’s the definition of a rule, from §111.15(A),
“Rule” includes any rule, regulation, bylaw, or standard having a general and uniform operation adopted by an agency under the authority of the laws governing the agency; any appendix to a rule; and any internal management rule.
So, where is their barefoot rule documented? In the Register of Ohio? In the Ohio Administrative Code? No, on a sign at the entrance.
Basically, they never enacted the rule. It was just a sign they put up and called a “Condition for Admission”.
In response to my lawsuit, the Attorney General’s Office (they were the attorneys, since the Ohio State Fair is a state agency and they represent the state) filed a motion to dismiss for failure to state a cause.
They basically said that, because I’d lost my library lawsuit, everything about bare feet had already been decided. Of course, even if that were true, it surely would not address the issue that the Fair had failed to properly enact their rule.
There is also an exacting legal standard in order to dismiss a lawsuit for failure to state a claim.
In considering a Civ.R. 12(B)(6) motion to dismiss, a trial court may not rely on allegations or evidence outside the complaint. Rather, the trial court may only review the complaint and may dismiss the case only if it appears beyond a doubt that the plaintiff can prove no set of facts entitling the plaintiff to recover. Moreover, the court must presume that all factual allegations in the complaint are true and draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the non-moving party.
Now, here’s an exercise for the reader. Can you come up with a set of facts that would have entitled me to relief?
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Of course you can. Their “condition for admission” is a shoe rule. All actions have to be approved by their Board to be effective. The shoe rule was not approved by their board. In addition, they didn’t go through the official rulemaking procedure required by state statute.
So, here we come to How Judges Cheat: state the legal principles involved, and then ignore them. Here’s the relevant part of the trial judges ruling (citations removed):
In ruling upon a motion to dismiss, the court is required to interpret all material allegations in the complaint as true and taken as admitted. Only where it is apparent beyond doubt from the face of the complaint that a plaintiff can prove no set of facts upon which recovery could be granted is the movant entitled to dismissal of the action. To prevent dismissal, plaintiffs are not required to prove their case with evidence, but only to point to some set of facts consistent with the complaint that, if proved, would allow plaintiffs to recover.
The Ohio Expositions Commission was created by statute for conducting the Ohio State Fair. See R.C. § 991.01. The statues provides that the Fair operates with events and activities “consistent with the general welfare and interests of the people of the state, and includes such services as are necessary for the care and comfort or amusement of the public. The court agrees with defendants that the Fair’s shoe requirement protects both the health and safety of Fair patrons and is consistent with the general welfare of fairgoers. As for plaintiff’s request for injunctive relief, the court finds that plaintiff has not shown he is irreparable harmed by the shoe rule.
Upon review, the court finds that plaintiff has state no claim for which relief can be granted, and accordingly GRANTS defendants’ motion to dismiss.
Oh, she was pissed.
And she wasn’t the only one. When I appealed, as usual, there was oral argument.
Now, I’ve done oral argument before and since. The judges have been respectful, and have asked questions. In particular, in my last lawsuit with the Fairfield County Library, they were really interested in the issues and asked quite pertinent questions (but still ruled against me).
But this panel of three judges was really, really pissed. They sat there in stony silence for 18 minutes. How dare I waste their time. I got steamrolled, right from the word “go”.
In their written opinion, the court decided that the Ohio State Fair didn’t have to go through the rulemaking process, because their barefoot rule was so “reasonable”.
So, that’s another way that judges cheat. They slip and slide their way around the plain facts, and justify the unjustifiable. They simply ignore the statutes when it gets them the result they want.