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State of Ohio v. Daniel Rittner

September 30, 2011

STATE OF OHIO APPELLEE
v.
DANIEL RITTNER, SR. APPELLANT



Trial Court No. 92CR000118

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Yarbrough, J.

DECISION AND JUDGMENT

{¶1} This is an appeal from the judgment of the Fulton County Court of Common Pleas denying defendant-appellant Daniel Rittner, Sr.'s motion to withdraw his guilty plea pursuant to Crim.R. 32.1. We affirm.

{¶2} On January 22, 1993, appellant pleaded guilty to two counts of rape in violation of R.C. 2907.02(A)(1)(b), felonies of the first degree. The trial court sentenced appellant to an indefinite term of imprisonment of six to 25 years on each count, to be served concurrently. Appellant did not file a direct appeal of his conviction or sentence.

{¶3} Beginning in 2002, appellant has inundated the courts with pro se motions, including several motions to withdraw his guilty pleas pursuant to Crim.R. 32.1. Appellant's first motion to withdraw his guilty pleas was initially denied by the trial court on November 19, 2002. However, in State v. Rittner, 6th Dist. No. F-02-034, 2003-Ohio- 5201, this court reversed the trial court's decision, holding that the trial court abused its discretion when it summarily dismissed appellant's motion without ruling on its merits. Upon remand, the trial court appointed counsel for appellant and held a hearing on the motion to withdraw the guilty pleas wherein evidence was presented, including appellant's own testimony at the hearing. The main issue in dispute was whether appellant was incompetent at the time of the pleas. Upon consideration of the evidence and the arguments in support and against, the trial court denied appellant's motion to withdraw the guilty pleas in a judgment entry filed on December 30, 2004. This court affirmed the trial court's judgment in State v. Rittner, 6th Dist. No. F-05-003, 2005-Ohio- 6526, appeal not allowed 109 Ohio St.3d 1424, 2006-Ohio-1967.

{¶4} On March 14, 2008, appellant filed a second motion to withdraw his guilty pleas, alleging that he had newly discovered evidence that undermined one of the victims' credibility. The alleged evidence consisted of the first page of a letter from the prosecuting attorney, which included statements from one of the victims. Appellant viewed those statements as exculpatory. However, in its brief in opposition to appellant's motion, the state provided the full document, which detailed several inculpatory statements made by the defendant in earlier correspondence. The trial court denied this motion on its merits in an April 14, 2008 judgment entry. Appellant failed to timely appeal that judgment.

{¶5} On August 23, 2010, appellant filed his third motion to withdraw his guilty pleas. This motion attacked the credibility of documents purportedly relied on by the trial court in its December 30, 2004 judgment that denied appellant's first motion to withdraw his guilty pleas. In addition, as in his second motion to withdraw his guilty pleas, appellant's third motion again challenged the credibility of one of the victims, referencing the same statements of that victim as stated in the letter from the prosecutor. On December 23, 2010, the trial court denied appellant's third motion, citing the doctrine of res judicata. Appellant now appeals from that judgment.

{¶6} We note initially that appellant does not present an assignment of error as required by App.R. 16(A)(3). However, based on his arguments, we construe his assignment of error to be that the trial court abused its discretion when it denied his motion to withdraw the guilty pleas.

{¶7} Appellant presents five questions in support of the construed assignment of error:

{¶8} "I. Whether the trial court abused its discretion when it denied Rittner's withdraw of guilty plea [sic].

{¶9} "II. Whether evidentiary hearing and withdraw of guilty plea is required because manifest injustice is demonstrated.

{¶10} "III. Whether res judicate [sic] is defeated with the presentation of competent, relevant, and material evidence dehors the record that did not exist until now.

{¶11} "IV. Whether evidence of manifest injustice did not previously exist.

{ΒΆ12} "V. Whether the claims of manifest injustices now submitted to the trial court in withdraw of guilty plea have ...


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