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State of Ohio v. Matthew F. Graves

November 26, 2012

STATE OF OHIO, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,
v.
MATTHEW F. GRAVES, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



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

Cite as State v. Graves,

DECISION AND JUDGMENT ENTRY

{¶1} Following a bench trial, the trial court convicted Matthew Graves of disorderly conduct while intoxicated under Marietta City Ordinance 509.03(b)(2).

Graves contends that his conviction is against the manifest weight of the evidence because the State failed to prove that he engaged in conduct or created a condition that presented a risk of physical harm to himself. However, the State presented evidence that in his intoxicated state, Graves refused to pay for drinks at a bar and mocked the bartender, prompting Graves' forcible removal from the bar and an injury to his hands. Instead of caring for the cuts on his bloody hands, Graves crossed a street to smoke a cigarette. He crossed this street by himself even though the alcohol negatively impacted his balance. Moreover, an officer testified that Graves was too intoxicated to care for himself. Based on this evidence, the trial court could reasonably conclude that the State proved Graves' guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Therefore, we cannot say that the court clearly lost its way and created such a manifest miscarriage of justice that we must reverse the conviction.

I. Facts

{¶2} After Graves was charged by citation with a violation of a Marietta City Ordinance for disorderly conduct while intoxicated, he pleaded not guilty and the matter proceeded to a bench trial.

{¶3} Benjamin Smith, a bartender at the Locker Room, testified that around 1:10 a.m. Graves told Smith to hurry up and give him the drinks he ordered. Smith told Graves to hold on and that he would come right back. Smith gave Graves his drinks and told him that he owed nine dollars. Graves looked at him and laughed. Smith told Graves he needed the money right now. Graves said he would pay when he was ready to pay. Smith told Graves to pay him now or leave. Graves laughed, and Smith told Graves he was serious. Graves asked Smith who would make him leave. Smith told Graves that he would if Graves did not pay. Graves laughed, put his wallet in his pocket, and turned around. Smith pushed Graves out of the bar, and Graves fell on the ground. Graves told Smith, "I'll see you again, 'cause I'm a lawyer, and you messed up * * *." Then Smith called the Marietta Police Department. Smith testified that he thought both men used profanity during the encounter and that he thought Graves was "a little drunk." On cross-examination, Smith acknowledged that Graves never threatened him or anyone else at the bar.

{¶4} Patrolman B.H. Chapman, a Marietta police officer, testified that he responded to the call from the Locker Room. When he arrived at the scene, Graves was already talking to another patrolman. Chapman spoke to Graves, who claimed he did nothing wrong and wanted to file a lawsuit for assault and battery. Chapman noticed a strong odor of alcohol coming from Graves. Chapman testified that Graves' speech was slurred, he had problems pronouncing words, he was unbalanced, and he could not find his I.D. Graves had blood on his hands. Chapman testified that Graves was in no condition to be outside on the street because he was too intoxicated to take care of himself. According to Chapman, Graves was not fit to drive anywhere and had no friends around. On cross-examination, Chapman admitted that he never asked how Graves planned to get home or checked to see if Graves had car keys. He also never asked if Graves went to the Locker Room by himself or had friends there. In addition, Chapman acknowledged that he had no evidence that Graves threatened anyone or tried to damage any property.

{¶5} Graves admitted that he consumed alcohol before he went to the Locker Room with three friends. Graves testified that one of the friends drove the group to the bar. Once there, he ordered a drink for each member of his party. The bartender told him he had to pay for the drinks "in a rather aggressive and hostile manner." Graves told the bartender he would pay. First, he turned to give the drinks to his friends, and the bartender yelled at him. Graves told the bartender he would get his money when Graves gave it to him. Graves did not recall putting his wallet away; he intended to pay for the drinks. He was upset and angry when the bartender threw him out. Graves landed on the ground and cut his hands. He got up and walked across a four or six lane street to a parking lot to smoke a cigarette and calm down. According to Graves, there "wasn't much traffic" given the time of day. Graves told one of his friends where he was going before he did this. He planned to go back to the bar later and politely ask to come back inside. Before he could, he saw an officer and approached him about pressing charges. Graves testified that he planned to ride home with the designated driver unless that person "ended up drinking more than what they should have," in which case the group would call a cab. On cross-examination, Graves acknowledged that after he was taken to the police station, he might have threatened to sue an officer.

{¶6} The trial court found Graves guilty of the charged offense. After sentencing, this appeal followed.

II. Assignment of Error

{¶7} Graves assigns one error for our review: "The Defendant was wrongly convicted of 'Disorderly Conduct' as the evidence failed to establish that defendant's intoxication posed a risk of harm to himself or others as required in Marietta Municipal Ordinance 509.03."

III. Manifest Weight of the Evidence.

{¶8} Graves contends that the State failed to prove an essential element of its case against him. We interpret this argument as a manifest weight of the evidence argument.*fn1 "In determining whether a criminal conviction is against the manifest weight of the evidence, an appellate court must review the entire record, weigh the evidence and all reasonable inferences, consider the credibility of witnesses and determine whether, in resolving conflicts in the evidence, the trier of fact clearly lost its way and created such a manifest miscarriage of justice that the conviction must be reversed." State v. Brown, 4th Dist. No. 09CA3, 2009-Ohio-5390, ΒΆ 24, citing State v. Thompkins, 78 Ohio St.3d 380, 387, 678 N.E.2d 541 (1997). A reviewing court "may not reverse a conviction when there is substantial evidence upon which the trial court could reasonably conclude that all ...


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