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State of Ohio v. Julian Steele

October 28, 2011

STATE OF OHIO,
PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,
v.
JULIAN STEELE, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



TRIAL NO. B-0903495 Criminal Appeal From: Hamilton County Court of Common Pleas

Per curiam.

Cite as State v. Steele,

OPINION.

Judgment Appealed From Is: Affirmed in Part, Reversed in Part, and Cause Remanded

Please note: This case has been removed from the accelerated calendar.

{¶1} This case presents an issue of first impression: what is the proper jury instruction concerning "privilege" when a police officer is charged with abduction arising from an alleged abuse of the power to arrest? That question also presents a difficult challenge to the court to balance the realities of police investigation and the inherent decision making that accompanies it with the legal safeguards afforded each citizen.

Facts

{¶2} In the course of investigating a series of robberies, defendantappellant detective Julian Steele arrested seventeen-year-old Jerome Maxton and interrogated him. Steele later charged Maxton. As a result of the charges, Maxton was incarcerated in a juvenile detention facility pending further action on his case. Nine days later, Maxton was released at the direction of an assistant Hamilton County prosecuting attorney.

{¶3} A subsequent investigation revealed that Steele may have arrested Maxton, coerced a false confession from him, and incarcerated him in order to compel Maxton's mother's cooperation with the investigation. There was evidence that Steele believed that Alicia Maxton, Maxton's mother, had been involved in the robberies or knew who had been involved, and that Steele thought that Alicia would supply information to exonerate her son. There were also allegations that Steele had forced sexual relations with Alicia, promising her that he would help to secure Maxton's release from juvenile detention.

{¶4} Following the investigation, the grand jury indicted Steele on charges of abduction, intimidation, extortion, rape, and sexual battery. The case was tried to a jury. Steele claimed he was innocent of all charges. He argued that the arrest was legal based on the facts known to him at the time. He also contended that he had not coerced a false confession from Maxton, and that therefore the complaint and Maxton's subsequent incarceration were valid, as well. Finally, Steele argued that his sexual relations with Alicia Maxton were consensual.

{¶5} The jury found Steele guilty of two counts of abduction and one count of intimidation, each with an accompanying firearm specification, and acquitted him on all other charges. The trial court sentenced Steele to five years' incarceration and five years' community control. For the following reasons, we affirm in part, reverse in part, and remand this case for further proceedings.

The Contested Jury Instruction

{¶6} Steele's fourth assignment of error is dispositive of a number of issues in this case. In it, he alleges that the court's jury instruction on the abduction counts was erroneous. Because defense counsel did not object to these instructions, we review Steele's argument using a plain-error analysis.*fn1

{¶7} A trial court must give the jury all relevant instructions that are necessary for the jury to weigh the evidence and to discharge its duty as the factfinder.*fn2 And while the trial court has discretion in fashioning the ...


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