Judge rules in favor of former Liberty Superintendent, drops charges
A Trumbull County judge has ruled in favor of former Liberty Local School District Superintendent, Joseph Nohra and dropped all felony charges.
Judge Ronald Rice cleared Nohra of all felony charges related to a case in which he allegedly recorded videos of private conversations among five district employees with a hidden camera in a carbon monoxide detector.
Nohra was originally set to go on trial on January 3, however Nohra requested the court to reconsider its previous ruling denying his motion to dismiss the indictment for Vagueness.
Nohra argued that the statutory provisions in Ohio Revised Code 2933.52 (A) lack sufficient legislative guidance to place an ordinary citizen on notice of the standards of conduct they prohibit and invite arbitrary and discriminatory enforcement.
The State of Ohio contended that the language of the statute simply refers to any communication where the declarant has a reasonable expectation of privacy. Nohra argued that the recorded conversations occurred in areas where there was no reasonable expectation of privacy.
Nohra had also sought advice from the School Board's legal council, as well as permission from the Board to use the surveillance camera.
Nohra's defense attorney, Dave Betras tells 21 News that Nohra had installed the camera "with the advice and consent of the Board and the advise and consent of his lawyers."
The court also recognized that the Ohio Supreme Court had previously ruled that RC 2933.51 (B) is clear and unambiguous as applied to cordless telephone conversations.
The Void for Vagueness Doctrine stands for the principle that a penal statute must provide "the ordinary person with adequate notice and fair warning as to the standard of conduct required by the statute."
The court found that there was a lack of guidance as to what constitutes as an oral communication in that regard and that such lack of guidance leads to the arbitrary and discriminatory enforcement of the statute.
Additionally, the statute does not address whether the declarant's expectation can be waived and if so, under what circumstances, and that specifically, there is no guidance on whether or not it applies in the a business or workplace setting.