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Third District Court of Appeals has special session in Tiffin

Three judges from Third District Court of Appeals heard arguments for two cases at Seneca County Justice Center on Tuesday morning.

Judges Vernon Preston, Stephen Shaw and William Zimmerman are considering appeals for two cases presented during a special session in Tiffin.

Students from Columbian and Mohawk high schools watched the proceedings Tuesday.

Shaw explained the court’s cases come in from trial courts after they have the trial, and a case is assigned for hearing.

The process of authoring an opinion is building consensus with all three judges, he said.

“We all author the opinion. … Anything can happen. It ends up being a product of all three judges, though,” he said.

In the first case heard Tuesday, attorney Robert Miller argued Joshua Chavez, 26, of Fostoria, was entitled to a new trial due to a substantial change in a law about self-defense.

Chavez had been convicted of a charge of felonious assault, a second-degree felony. He was sentenced to nearly six years in prison Feb. 8.

“The law regarding self defense … changed one month later, on March 28, 2019, while this case is still pending on appeal,” Miller said.

Rebeka Beresh, assistant Seneca County prosecutor, called the situation a “slippery slope.”

In the second case of the morning, attorney Alex Smith argued Mindy L. Risner, 44, of Tiffin, had ineffective assistance of counsel.

He said a motion to suppress was filed after a deadline.

Risner was convicted of operating a vehicle while intoxicated.

Charles Hall, a city of Tiffin prosecutor, explained jurors got to see a video and did see there was no use of a turn signal.

“They saw this video, and yes, it did go back with them (to deliberations),” he said.

Hall said Risner had a competent lawyer and admitted she had been drinking.

“She had a fair trial,” he said.

The judges are to issue their decisions.

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