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State ex rel. Matz v. Brown

7-6-1988 Ohio:

State ex rel. Matz v. Brown
This case is the source of this argument: Argument: "felons have no reasonable right to expect that their conduct will never thereafter be made the subject of legislation".
Both parties cite this definition. Relator argues that his felony was a past transaction or consideration to which R.C. 2743.60(E) attaches a new disability. Respondent urges that relator has no vested interest in an award. Respondent misses the point: the Story definition involves either impairing of a vested right or creating a new disability with respect to past transactions or considerations. However, discounting respondent's argument does not enhance relator's.

In Lakengren v. Kosydar (1975), 44 Ohio St.2d 199, 201, 73 O.O. 2d 502, 503, 339 N.E.2d 814, 815, we held that the state could not retroactively apply amendments to the corporate franchise tax to a taxpayer whose tax year had ended:

"`The General Assembly having the power to enact laws, and * * * having enacted laws within certain limitations, and persons having conformed their conduct and affairs to such state of the law, the General Assembly is prohibited, estopped, from passing new laws to reach back and create new burdens * * * not existing at the time.'" (Citing Miller v. Hixon [1901], 64 Ohio St. 39, 59 N.E. 749.)

From the foregoing it is clear that a later enactment will not burden or attach a new disability to a past transaction or consideration in the constitutional sense, unless the past transaction or consideration, if it did not create a vested right, created at least a reasonable expectation of finality. The completion of a tax year is such a transaction; the commission of a felony is not. Except with regard to constitutional protections against ex post facto laws, no claim of which is made here, felons have no reasonable right to expect that their conduct will never thereafter be made the subject of legislation.

There are important public policy reasons for so holding. For example, if relator's theory were to prevail no person convicted of abusing children could be prevented from school employment by a later law excluding such persons from that employment.
eAdvocate Note: It is one thing to prevent a person from taking specific employment, and another to AGAIN control their personal actions as sex offender registration has done. Accordingly, I believe this argument is being misapplied to registrants today in 2011! Finality of a criminal conviction has to mean something, and this argument circumvents ex post facto prohibitions, a substantive right.

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