Ohio Supreme Court rejects man’s petition

Vernon Yontz asked for the modification of the modalities of intervention in lieu of condemnation

The Ohio Supreme Court recently ruled that a Guernsey County trial court’s order denying Vernon Yontz’s motion to vary the terms of his intervention in lieu of conviction (ILC) for unlawful possession of oxycodone pills was not a final appealable order.

Because the order was not final, neither the Fifth District Court of Appeals nor the Supreme Court had jurisdiction to review the trial court’s denial of its variation request. A majority of the court reversed the Fifth District’s decision denying Yontz’s claim and upheld the trial court’s decision.

Yontz challenged the duration of the ILC which required him to stop using Suboxone to treat opioid abuse disorder. Yontz had argued before the Supreme Court that he shouldn’t have to violate his CIT to take the Suboxone he was prescribed for treatment.

Writing for the court, Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor acknowledged that concern that continued treatment with Suboxone could provide Yontz “the best possible chance of successful rehabilitation” does not procedurally allow her to do so. appeal the order if the order does not meet the legal definition. of a final order subject to appeal.

Justices Sharon L. Kennedy, Patrick F. Fischer, R. Patrick DeWine, Michael P. Donnelly and Melody Stewart joined in the opinion of the Chief Justice. Judge Jennifer Brunner only concurred with the judgment.

Court grants ILC with conditionsIn 2017, Yontz faced felony charges of aggravated drug possession for possession of oxycodone. In June 2019, he applied for the County of Guernsey Court of Common Pleas to grant him ILC under RC 2951.041. As part of his request, Yontz agreed to comply with all the conditions imposed by the court. Yontz’s request acknowledged that a response plan could be established for him and that he would be required to abstain from illicit drugs and alcohol. The trial court granted Yontz’s CDI request and placed him on “probationary-type supervision” for at least one year and up to three years. The order required Yontz to obey any conditions of his supervision imposed by the adult probation service.

That same day, Yontz signed the Probation Service’s written prescription drug policy, which stated that Suboxone was not an approved drug and directed him to meet with his doctor to obtain a safe titration plan to be weaned off the drug. within 60 to 90 days. . Yontz had a prescription for Suboxone at the time.

Modification of ILC conditions soughtAbout six months later, Yontz asked the trial court to change his ILC supervision so he could demonstrate that his access to Suboxone was medically necessary. Yontz said he had used opiates for more than 20 years and had been diagnosed with severe opioid use disorder. He argued that blocking his use of the drug violated the US Federal Disabilities Act and the equal protection clauses of the US and Ohio constitutions.

The Guernsey County Attorney’s Office opposed the amendment and the Magistrate’s Court rejected it. Yontz appealed to the Fifth District. The prosecutor’s office argued that Yontz’s appeal was moot because he had successfully navigated the ILC process, including having already reduced the Suboxone.

The appeals court concluded that his appeal was moot because there was no evidence that he used the drug after the time he was supposed to stop and there was nothing in the record showing non-compliance with ILC conditions. The Fifth District found no reason to modify its ILC.

Yontz appealed to the Supreme Court, arguing that he shouldn’t have to violate his CIT by taking Suboxone to challenge the terms of the CIT. The Court agreed to hear the case.

The court found, in the circumstances, that Yontz’s request to change his treatment did not meet the law’s definition of a final order subject to appeal because he had requested the change three months after he stopped using medication.

Because Yontz could not demonstrate that the trial court’s decision was a final appealable order, he could not appeal it, the court found.

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