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State v. Corbin

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Twelfth District

August 16, 2010

STATE OF OHIO, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
LAURA S. CORBIN, Defendant-Appellant

CRIMINAL APPEAL FROM FAYETTE COUNTY COURT OF COMMON PLEAS Case No. 09CRI00124.

David B. Bender, Fayette County Prosecuting Attorney, for plaintiff-appellee

Yavitch & Palmer Co., LPA, Nicholas Siniff, for defendant-appellant

OPINION

BRESSLER, J.

{¶1} Defendant-appellant, Laura S. Corbin, appeals from her conviction in the Fayette County Court of Common Pleas for two counts of assault on a peace officer. We affirm.

{¶2} On July 4, 2009 at approximately 3:45 p.m., Officer Charles Hughes, Officer Jeff Heinze, and Officer Jonathon Sever, all with the Washington Court House Police Department, were dispatched to a "very heated" domestic dispute at 521 East Market Street located in Washington Court House, Fayette County, Ohio. Once the officers gained control of the situation, appellant was placed under arrest, transported to the hospital to receive treatment for injuries she allegedly sustained during the fracas, and charged with two counts of assault on a peace officer. Following the trial court's decision denying her motion to suppress, a jury found appellant guilty on both counts.

{¶3} Appellant now appeals her conviction, raising six assignments of error. For ease of discussion, appellant's assignments of error will be addressed out of order.

{¶4} Assignment of Error No. 3:

{¶5} "THE TRIAL COURT IMPROPERLY OVERRULED APPELLANT'S MOTION TO SUPPRESS HER STATEMENTS MADE WHILE SHE WAS IN POLICE CUSTODY THEREBY VIOLATING HER RIGHTS AS GUARANTEED BY THE FIFTH AND FOURTEENTH AMENDMENTS OF THE UNITED STATES CONSTITUTION AND ARTICLE I, SECTION 10 OF THE CONSTITUTION OF THE STATE OF OHIO."

{¶6} In her third assignment of error, appellant argues that the trial court erred by denying her motion to suppress statements she made to her mother that were overheard by Officer Sever at the hospital. In support of this argument, appellant claims "Officer Sever's presence constituted interrogation, " thereby triggering the need to issue Miranda warnings. We disagree.

{¶7} Appellate review of a trial court's ruling on a motion to suppress presents a mixed question of law and fact. State v. Burnside, 100 Ohio St.3d 152, 2003-Ohio-5372, ¶8; State v. Long (1998), 127 Ohio App.3d 328, 332. When considering a motion to suppress, the trial court, as the trier of fact, is in the best position to resolve factual questions and evaluate the credibility of the witnesses. State v. Smith, 80 Ohio St.3d 89, 105, 1997-Ohio-355; State v. Anderson (1995), 100 Ohio App.3d 688, 691. An appellate court must defer to the trial court's factual findings if they are supported by competent, credible evidence. State v. Bryson (2001), 142 Ohio App.3d 397, 402; State v. Retherford (1994), 93 Ohio App.3d 586, 593. After accepting the trial court's factual findings as true, the appellate court must then determine, "without deference to the trial court, whether the court has applied the appropriate legal standard." Anderson at 691; State v. Cochran, Preble App. No. CA2006-10-023, 2007-Ohio-3353, ¶12.

{¶8} It is well-established that the "prosecution may not use statements, whether exculpatory or inculpatory, stemming from a custodial interrogation unless it demonstrates the use of procedural safeguards effective to secure the privilege against self-incrimination." State v. Huysman, Warren App. No. CA2005-09-107, 2006-Ohio-2245, ¶13, quoting Miranda v. Arizona (1966), 384 U.S. 436, 444, 86 S.Ct. 1602. The issuance of Miranda warnings serves as a safeguard to protect a person's Fifth Amendment privilege against compelled self-incrimination. State v. Baker, Butler App. No. CA2007-06-152, 2008-Ohio-4426, ¶10. However, the issuance of Miranda warnings are only required when the police subject a person to "custodial interrogation." State v. Byrne, Butler App. Nos. CA2007-11-268, CA2007-11-269, 2008-Ohio-4311, ¶10, citing State v. Biros, 78 Ohio St.3d 426, 440, 1997-Ohio-204. Custodial interrogation occurs when there is "questioning initiated by law enforcement officers after a person has been taken into custody or otherwise deprived of his freedom of action in any significant way." (Emphasis added.) State v. Rodriguez, Preble App. No. CA2009-09-024, 2010-Ohio-1944, ¶34, quoting Miranda at 444; see, also, Rhode Island v. Innis (1980), 446 U.S. 291, 300-303, 100 S.Ct. 1682; State v. Knuckles, 65 Ohio St.3d 494, 1992-Ohio-64, paragraph two of the syllabus.

{¶9} At the suppression hearing, Officer Sever testified that as he stood by the door to appellant's hospital room, he "allowed the mother to speak with [appellant]" when he overheard her say "she hit the officers just because she was so aggravated with everything." When asked if he ever questioned appellant at the hospital, Officer Sever testified that he did not, and continued by testifying that she was "just speaking freely * * *"

{¶10} After a thorough review of the record, we find it readily apparent that appellant was not subject to any questioning initiated by law enforcement officers, and therefore, she was not subject to custodial interrogation triggering the need to issue Miranda warnings. See, e.g., State v. Moore (2000), 140 Ohio App.3d 278, 283 (mere presence of police officer monitoring suspect found insufficient to constitute interrogation). As the trial court found, and for which we agree, appellant's "statement was made freely and voluntarily to a third party in the presence of an officer" and "[w]as not in any way coerced, coached[, ] or responsive to any suggestion that was initiated by the officer[.]" In turn, because appellant was not subject to custodial interrogation while speaking to her mother within earshot of Officer Sever, the trial court did not err by denying appellant's motion to suppress. Accordingly, appellant's third assignment of error is overruled.

{¶11} Assignment of Error No. 4:

{¶12} "OFFICER'S WARRANTLESS ENTRY APPELLANT'S HOME TO INITIATE AN ARREST VIOLATED APPELLANT'S RIGHTS AS GUARANTEED BY THE FOURTH AND FOURTEENTH AMENDMENTS OF THE UNITED STATE CONSTITUTION AND COMPARABLE PROVISIONS OF THE OHIO STATE CONSTITUTION." [sic]

{¶13} In her fourth assignment of error, appellant argues that "Officer Hughes and Officer Heinze's warrantless entry into [her] home" to effectuate her arrest was "illegal."[1] However, appellant did not challenge her "illegal" arrest in her motion to suppress, nor did she raise the issue at the suppression hearing. See State v. Layne, Clermont App. No. CA2009-07-043, 2010-Ohio-2308, ¶12. Therefore, although appellant did file a motion to suppress, her failure to raise the issue of her "illegal" arrest waived that issue on appeal. State v. Mixner, Warren App. No. CA2001-07-074, 5, 2002-Ohio-180, citing State v. Shindler, 70 Ohio St.3d 54, 58, 1994-Ohio-452; Xenia v. Wallace (1988), 37 Ohio St.3d 216, 218. Accordingly, appellant's fourth assignment of error is overruled.

{¶14} Assignment of Error No. 5:

{¶15} "APPELLANT'S RIGHT TO EFFECTIVE ASSISTANCE OF COUNSEL AS GUARANTEED BY THE SIXTH AMENDMENT TO THE UNITED STATES CONSTITUTION AND ARTICLE I, SECTION 10 OF THE OHIO CONSTITUTION WAS VIOLATED WHEN COUNSEL FAILED TO RAISE THE ISSUE OF APPELLANT'S ...


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