Login | February 16, 2019

Probation condition restricting defendants’ rights to procreate reversed

Legal News Reporter

Published: February 6, 2018

A Lorain County judge improperly ordered two men to avoid conceiving another child as a condition of probation, the 9th District Court of Appeals recently ruled.

The appellate court reversed and remanded the cases of both London Chapman and Lee Anderson.

Chapman pleaded guilty to 11 felony counts of failing to pay child support.

Anderson pleaded guilty to five felony counts of failing to pay child support.

In each case, the trial court continued the sentencing hearing to allow the parties to research whether it had the authority to impose an anti-procreation condition to Chapman’s community control.

The trial judge ended up sentencing each defendant to five years community control.

As a condition of community control, the trial court ordered Chapman and Anderson to “make all reasonable efforts to avoid impregnating a woman during the community control period” or until they could prove they were able to provide for the children they already had.

Chapman and Anderson appealed on the grounds that the trial court violated their Constitutional rights to privacy. They also cited the Ohio Supreme Court’s decision in State v. Jones (49 Ohio St.3d 51).

The high court’s decision in Jones, which addressed a probation condition that ordered the defendant to have “no association or communication, direct or indirect, with anyone under the age of 18 years not a member of his immediate family.”

The Jones court found that courts should consider whether the probation condition 1) is reasonably related to rehabilitating the offender, 2) has some relationship to the crime of which the offender was convicted and 3) relates to conduct that is criminal or reasonably related to future criminality and serves the statutory ends of probation.

Talty II, a subsequent Ohio Supreme Court decision, addressed a community-control condition in a Medina County case that was more similar to Chapman and Anderson — with the justices applying its reasoning from Jones.

In Talty II, the Supreme Court reversed the 9th District, finding the community control sanction “overbroad,” and restricted the “defendant’s right to procreate without providing a mechanism by which the prohibition can be lifted if the relevant conduct should change.”

In both Chapman and Anderson, the 9th District panel rejected their arguments under the three-part Jones test.

However, the panel agreed that the community control condition directly impacts a fundamental right to procreate, which the trial court’s judgment entry failed to address in either appellant’s case.

Therefore, the matters must be remanded for the trial court to consider Chapman’s and Anderson’s constitutional arguments in the first instance, 9th District Judge Jennifer Hensal wrote in her opinion.

Appellate judges Donna Carr and Thomas Teodosio concurred.

The cases are cited State v. Chapman, 2018-Ohio-343 and State v. Anderson, 2018-Ohio-342.