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In re R.J.

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Second District

October 13, 2006

IN THE MATTER OF: R.J., JR.

Civil Appeal from Common Pleas Court, Juvenile Division T.C. NO. D35978

CHARLES M. ROWLAND II, Atty. Reg. No. 0065603, Attorney for Alleged Delinquent Child, R.J., Jr.

ELIZABETH A. ELLIS, Atty. Reg. No. 0074332, Assistant Prosecutor, Attorney for State of Ohio

F. ANN CROSSMAN, Atty. Reg. No. 0043525, Attorney for CASA CONNIE PAOLIELLO, CASA

OPINION

DONOVAN, J.

{¶1} Defendant-appellant R. J., Jr. appeals a decision of the Greene County Court of Common Pleas, Juvenile Division, finding him delinquent for the offense of aggravated assault, a felony of the fourth degree. On November 3, 2004, R.J. was charged by complaint with one count of attempted felonious assault in violation of R.C. §§ 2923.02(A) and 2903.11(A)(1), one count of felonious assault in violation of R.C. § 2903.11(A)(2), and one count of aggravated assault in violation of R.C. § 2903.12(A)(2).

{¶2} On March 11, 2005, R.J. filed a motion to suppress certain statements he made during an interview with his court appointed guardian ad litem (GAL) outside the presence of defense counsel. A hearing on said motion was held on July 12, 2005. On July 27, 2005, the juvenile court issued an order overruling R. J.'s motion to suppress.

{¶3} In return for dismissing the attempted felonious assault and felonious assault charges, as well as a domestic violence charge from another case, R.J. agreed to enter a no contest plea to the remaining count of aggravated assault on October 18, 2005. On December 6, 2005, the juvenile court sentenced R.J. to a suspended commitment to Ohio Department of Youth Services and placed him on supervision until he reached the age of eighteen. R.J. was also ordered to pay a fine of $200.00 and court costs of $79.00.

{¶4} R.J. filed a timely notice of appeal on January 6, 2006.

I

{¶5} The incident that forms the basis for this appeal occurred on November 1, 2004, at the residence of R.J.'s mother and stepfather. After R.J. returned home, his stepfather confronted him about stealing items from the house and then selling them. The discussion quickly escalated into a physical confrontation in R.J.'s bedroom. R.J. grabbed his stepfather and tried to choke him. R.J.'s brother entered the room and was able to separate them. R.J.'s brother and stepfather left R.J. in his room and returned to the downstairs of the residence.

{¶6} After a short time, R.J. came downstairs brandishing some type of weapon and stated that he was going to "slice everyone up in the house." The stepfather attempted to restrain R.J. but sustained a cut on his left thumb in the ensuing struggle. R.J.'s brother was able to take the knife away from him. R.J. then ran outside the house and threw a bike at his mother who sustained minor injuries as a result of the attack. The police were contacted shortly thereafter, and R.J. was taken into custody and charged with attempted felonious assault, felonious assault, and aggravated assault.

{¶7} The juvenile court removed R.J. from the home and transported him to the Greene County Juvenile Court Detention Center. The juvenile court appointed defense counsel for R.J. on November 5, 2004. On November 9, 2004, the trial court appointed a separate Court-Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) to serve as R. J.'s GAL. Prior to the pre-trial conference held on March 4, 2005, the GAL interviewed R.J. and obtained a written statement of his version of the events which led to his removal from his home. The GAL asked R.J. to provide a written statement because R.J. claimed that the police report was incorrect regarding some details of the incident. Specifically, R.J. stated that his uncle was pushing him around before he attacked his stepfather and that he came downstairs with a bicycle peg rather than a knife when he threatened his family.

{¶8} The GAL subsequently filed her report with the juvenile court which contained R.J.'s statements concerning the incident. This report was not objected to by R.J.'s first attorney who later withdrew based on a conflict of interest. Upon being appointed, R.J.'s second attorney immediately filed a three-pronged motion asking the court to suppress the written statement, remove the GAL, and adopt a standing order which would prohibit the GAL as well as other court personnel from having contact with R.J. outside the presence of his attorney. The juvenile court overruled the motion to suppress R. J.'s written statement as well as the motion to remove the GAL. ...


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