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In the Matter of: Cor[E]Y J. A. Esson

November 8, 2011

IN THE MATTER OF: COR[E]Y J. A. ESSON, (DEFENDANT-APPELLANT).


APPEAL from the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas. (C.P.C. No. 10EP-648)

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

Cite as In re Esson,

(REGULAR CALENDAR)

DECISION

{¶1} Defendant-appellant, Corey J. A. Esson ("appellant"), appeals the judgment of the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas, which denied his application to seal the records of a criminal matter in which he was found not guilty. Having concluded that the trial court erred by failing to give appellant the opportunity to speak before it made its decision at the hearing R.C. 2753.52 requires, and also issued an entry that refers to the wrong statute, we reverse.

I. BACKGROUND

{¶2} On September 17, 2010, appellant filed in the trial court a court-provided form "Application for Order Sealing Record of Dismissal, Finding of Not Guilty or No Bill [R.C. 2953.52(A)]." In it, appellant stated that a jury in Franklin County had found him not guilty in case No. 08-CR-000872 in December 2008. He signed the following printed "Memorandum in Support of Application for Order Sealing Record":

No criminal proceedings are pending against applicant. A dismissal of the former complaint or a finding of not guilty has been journalized by the court in the prior case; or if this application is based upon a no bill having been returned against applicant, more than two years have passed since the foreman or deputy foreman of the grand jury reported the no bill to the court. All other factors listed in R.C. 2953.52(B)(2) support granting this application.

{¶3} Plaintiff-appellee, the state of Ohio ("the state"), objected to appellant's application. In its objection, the state contended that appellant had been indicted on one count of murder for the death of Colten Groves. At trial, appellant asserted that he had acted in self-defense. The jury found appellant not guilty.

{¶4} In objecting to appellant's application, the state noted that appellant had not provided any reasons in support of sealing the record. The state also argued that the public's interest in having access to the information about appellant's case outweighed any interest appellant might have in sealing it. As to appellant's case, the state argued that the public record should include the circumstances surrounding Groves' death.

{¶5} The trial court held a hearing on February 1, 2011, beginning at 9:46 a.m. Appellant appeared without counsel. The following is a complete transcript of that hearing, following initial introductions:

THE COURT: * * * Mr. Esson, you have filed for an expungement, the State has filed an objection.

Mr. Rogers [the prosecutor].

MR. ROGERS: Yes, Your ...


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