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$27,000 deer case not over

Tom Jackson • Dec 31, 2013 at 3:00 PM

The man who shot a deer the state says is worth more than $27,000 has lost a court case on appeal, so he may be facing a heavy restitution bill after all.

The ruling by the Sixth District Court of Appeals in Toledo sends Bellevue resident Arlie Risner’s case back to Huron County for further legal proceedings.

Risner had pleaded no contest in a hunting without permission case alleging he shot a deer in 2010 on railroad property near Willard. Risner contends he shot the deer on a relative’s property with her permission but that the mortally wounded deer walked away and died by the tracks. He says he entered the plea to make the case go away.

State game officials said the buck was worth $27,851 because of its unusually large rack of horns and pressed Risner to pay the bill, saying he’d lose his hunting and fishing license until he paid up.

Risner appeared to catch a break in April 2013 when Huron County Common Pleas Judge James Conway ruled in Risner’s favor, saying the Ohio Department of Natural Resources can’t try to collect twice on the same deer.

Conway ruled that after the ODNR took possession of the deer’s remains, it couldn’t also try to collect restitution. That’s the “plain language of ORC 1531.201” Conway wrote.

Alas for Risner, lawyers don’t always agree on what the “plain language” of the law is.

Appeals judges James Jensen, Mark Pietrykowski and Thomas Osowik overruled Conway 3-0 in a ruling released Friday, writing that nothing in the law prevents ODNR from seeking the restitution.

The ruling reversed Conway and sent the case back to Huron for further court action.

The trio did note they hadn’t addressed Risner’s claim the law was unconstitutional and said that could remain an issue.

Risner said Monday he hadn’t heard about the ruling and would be contacting his lawyer, Gordon Eyster, to see what happens next.

Eyster, a Shelby attorney, is out of the office until Friday, his staff said.

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