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Ohio Supreme Court takes $28,000 deer case

Tom Jackson • Jun 7, 2014 at 12:30 PM

Ohio's best legal minds – or at least its top-ranking ones – are about to weigh in on the case of the $28,000 deer carcass.

The Ohio Supreme Court has announced that it will take Risner v. Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Ohio Division of Wildlife.

Just getting the Ohio Supreme Court to take the case is a partial victory for Arlie Risner, a Bellevue resident. The state's highest court rejects many attempted appeals.

For example, the high court's May 28 announcement saying that it would take the Risner case listed six other cases that it accepted for review. But the same announcement listed 73 appeals that it refused to hear.

Risner hunted a deer near Willard in 2010. The state contends he hunted the deer on railroad property. Risner said he took the deer on a relative's land and that the deer just happened to wander onto railroad property before it died.

In any event, Risner pleaded no contest to a charge of hunting without permission. He explained that he thought it was the least expensive way to make the case go away. The state confiscated the deer.

The case suddenly became much more expensive, however, when state officials then demanded $27,850 in restitution, claiming the large rack of antlers on the buck made it very valuable.

Risner appeared to win a big victory when Huron County Common Pleas Judge James Conroy ruled last year that the plain language of state law indicated the state could take away the deer or demand restitution, but it couldn't do both.

But the Sixth Court of Appeals in Toledo overruled Conway 3-0 late last year, forcing Risner to take his case all the way to the Ohio Supreme Court.

Risner and his attorney, Gordon Eyster, did not return calls Friday requesting comment.

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