Appeals court vacates Yavorcik convictions in Oak Hill case


CLEVELAND

The 8th District Court of Appeals vacated the eight felony convictions of Martin Yavorcik in his Oakhill Renaissance Place corruption case, saying Cuyahoga County was the wrong place to conduct the trial.

In a 3-0 decision Thursday, the court of appeals wrote: “The trial court erred in denying Yavorcik’s motion for judgment of acquittal for lack of venue. As a result, Yavorcik’s conviction cannot stand. It is mandatory that venue be proven beyond a reasonable doubt before a conviction can be sustained.”

The court of appeals ordered the case be sent back to Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court Judge Janet R. Burnside, who oversaw Yavorcik’s trial, “to vacate the judgment.” It added: “The court finds there were reasonable grounds for this appeal.”

The decision read: “There is no venue in Cuyahoga County either because a pattern of corrupt activity has not been established,” and “the evidence demonstrates that Yavorcik’s nexus with Cuyahoga County is nonexistent.”

Dan Tierney, a spokesman for the Ohio Attorney General’s Office, said: “We are currently reviewing the decision to determine if we’ll appeal to the Ohio Supreme Court.”

The AG’s office helped prosecute Yavorcik’s case with the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor’s Office.

David Doughten, Yavorcik’s attorney, said: “This was a very important decision that should impact on prosecutorial overreach in the future. However, we are mindful that the state has the ability to attempt to appeal this matter to the Supreme Court of Ohio. But we are confident [the] Supreme Court of Ohio would similarly rule, if they decide to accept the matter. We believe the court of appeals’ opinion rests on solid precedent.”

Read more about the decision in Friday's Vindicator or on Vindy.com.

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