In general, the final-judgment rule has been interpreted to preclude reviewability where anything further remains to be determined by a State court, no matter how dissociated from the only federal issue that has finally been adjudicated by the highest court of the State. Applied in the context of a criminal prosecution, finality is normally defined by the imposition of the sentence.
Criminal complaints were issued against three individuals charging them with disseminating obscenity in violation of an Ohio statute. The trial court granted the defendants' motion to dismiss the complaints on the ground that the defendants had been subjected to selective and discriminatory prosecution in violation of the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. The Court of Appeals of Ohio reversed, finding the evidence insufficient to support the defendants' allegations of selective and discriminatory prosecution and remanded for trial. The Supreme Court of Ohio affirmed. On certiorari, the Court dismissed the writ for want of jurisdiction.
Was the decision of the Ohio Supreme Court affirming reversal of the trial court's dismissal of criminal complaints a final judgment within the meaning of 28 USCS 1257?
The Court first noted that, consistent with the relevant jurisdictional statute, 28 U.S.C.S. § 1257, its jurisdiction to review a state court decision was generally limited to a final judgment rendered by the highest court of the state in which a decision could be had. The final judgment rule had been interpreted to preclude reviewability where anything further remained to be determined by a state court, no matter how dissociated from a federal issue that was adjudicated by the highest court of the state. Applied in the context of a criminal prosecution, finality was normally defined by the imposition of the sentence. In the case before the Court, there was no finding of guilt and no sentence imposed. The Court considered whether delaying review until petitioners were convicted, if they were, would seriously erode federal policy within the meaning of prior cases. Dismissing the writ of certiorari, the Court determined that such would not be the case, that there was no final judgment before it, and that the Court lacked jurisdiction. The resolution of the question of selective enforcement could await final judgment without any adverse effect upon important federal interests.