Girard animal-cruelty case headed to Ohio Supreme Court


Staff report

COLUMBUS

The Ohio Supreme Court will hear an appeal in a case of a Girard man accused of cruelty to animals.

The city of Girard appealed a ruling by the 11th District Court of Appeals in Warren, which overturned the conviction of John A. Giordano and ruled it unconstitutional to pursue further proceedings against him.

Police arrested Giordano, 52, of North St. Clair Street, in February 2016 after a video surfaced in which he appeared to beat a dog outside his home in Girard.

The police report said Giordano kneed the dog and hit it with a closed fist.

The video ignited outrage on social media and prompted a small group of animal-rights activists to protest at Giordano’s court appearances.

Judge Jeffrey Adler of Girard Municipal Court found Giordano guilty in June 2016 after Giordano pleaded no contest to the charge. Giordano received a year’s probation and had to forfeit his dog, a Rottweiler named Hazard.

But a ruling issued by the 11th District Court of Appeals last year determined Judge Adler did not obtain an explanation of circumstances from the prosecutor before finding Giordano guilty.

Because the trial court did not receive an explanation of circumstances, Giordano argued his conviction was not supported by sufficient evidence.

The appeals court also ruled that further proceedings against Giordano would violate the double jeopardy clause in the U.S. Constitution, which prohibits anyone from being prosecuted twice for the same crime.

The city appealed that ruling and argued that the appellate court misapplied the double jeopardy clause.

A court filing argues the appeals court’s interpretation of the clause would allow criminal defendants to plead no contest and walk away with no recourse if the trial court makes an error in following procedure.

“The 11th District’s grant of a get-out-of-jail-free card all because of this failure in the process is too high of a price for society to pay,” the filing reads.

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