An Ohio appeals court has upheld a lower court decree banning Asim Taylor, a father of four, from further procreating until he coughs up about $100,000 in child support or serves five years of probation — whichever comes first.
Lorain County probate judge James Walther issued the highly unusual sentence in January 2013 after Taylor, who is in his mid-30s, pleaded guilty to four counts of failing to pay child support, reports WJW, Cleveland’s FOX affiliate.
“The defendant is ordered to make all reasonable efforts to avoid impregnating a woman during the community-controlled period or until such time the defendant can prove to this court that he is able to provide for his children that he already has,” Walther ruled at the time.
On appeal, Doug Merrill, Taylor’s attorney, argued that the sentence is an infringement on Taylor’s fundamental rights.
In Skinner v. Oklahoma, a 1942 case, the U.S. Supreme Court held that compulsory sterilization cannot be imposed as a punishment for a crime. Obviously, this case does not involve sterilization, which, as the Supreme Court noted, causes people to be “forever deprived of a basic liberty.” In this case, the judge has temporarily deprived Taylor of a basic liberty.
A 2004 Ohio Supreme Court decision also ruled that the state and its judges cannot command a person not to have babies. In that case, the judge did not set a duration for his order banning an individual from procreating.
The appellate decision, released this week by 9th District Court of Appeals, rests on the mother of all technicalities. Two judges on the three-judge panel concluded that they had no choice but to affirm the probate judge’s ruling because they did not have a copy the Lorain County Adult Probation Department’s pre-sentencing report on Taylor.
Apparently, the three esteemed appellate judges also lacked the resources to obtain this report.
“Indeed, we have little to go on other than what the trial court said in its journal entries, which is itself limited,” Judge Carla Moore wrote for the majority, according to The Chronicle-Telegram. “We therefore have no choice in this case but to presume the regularity of the community control sanctions and to affirm.”
In a separate concurring opinion, Carr noted her own conclusion that the lower-court judge had made the right call.
“Where, as here, the defendant has demonstrated a long-term refusal to support multiple children by multiple women notwithstanding his ability to work and contribute something for their care, an anti-procreation condition is reasonably related to future criminality,” she wrote.
In his 2013 ruling, the probate judge described his edict banning Taylor from having future children for five years as “a matter of common sense and personal responsibility.”