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State of Ohio v. Chad Bradford

February 8, 2013

STATE OF OHIO, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,
v.
CHAD BRADFORD, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



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

Cite as State v. Bradford,

DECISION AND JUDGMENT ENTRY

{¶1} Chad Bradford appeals his conviction in the Adams County Court of Common Pleas after a jury found him guilty of bribery, in violation of R.C. 2921.02(D). Bradford raises three assignments of error, arguing 1) the evidence was insufficient to convict him of bribery because he was never subpoenaed or sworn as a witness, 2) the trial court committed plain error when it failed to properly instruct the jury; and, 3) trial counsel rendered ineffective assistance of counsel when it failed to object to the erroneous jury instructions. After viewing the evidence in a light most favorable to the prosecution, we conclude that any rational trier of fact could have found the essential elements of the crime of bribery proven beyond a reasonable doubt. As such, Appellant's first assignment of error is overruled. Further, having found no plain error with respect to the trial court's provision of jury instructions, Appellant's second assignment of error is overruled. Finally, having failed to find plain error in the provision of jury instructions, we cannot conclude that trial counsel's failure to object to the instructions constituted ineffective assistance of counsel. Thus, Appellant's third assignment of error is overruled.

{¶2} Having found no merit to the assignments of error raised by Appellant, we affirm the decision of the trial court.

FACTS

{¶3} Bradford's nephew, Terry "Shay" Morgan, stabbed Bradford several times during an altercation, requiring Bradford be transported to Cincinnati, Ohio for emergency medical treatment. Once the hospital released Bradford, he spoke with Shay's fiancee. She relayed to Bradford that Shay's father may be willing to pay Bradford to not attend a grand jury hearing against Shay. Shay's fiancee acted as a conduit between the two, who determined that for $1,000, Bradford would not attend the hearing and would not testify against Shay.

{¶4} Shay's father testified he did not initially offer money in exchange for Bradford's silence; he had made a joke about it, yet Shay's fiancee relayed the statement to Bradford, who interpreted it as a serious offer. Shay's father contacted the Winchester Police Department once Bradford decided he would accept $1,000 in order to not testify against Shay.

{¶5} The Winchester Police Department, along with Chief Caudill, set up a sting. They gave Shay's father $500 to give to Bradford, and outfitted his truck with audio and video surveillance. The money had been photographed beforehand in order to track the serial numbers.

{¶6} Bradford subsequently met with Shay's father in his truck. The two discussed the transaction, whereby Shay's father would give Bradford $500

before he was scheduled to testify against Shay and $500 afterward, assuming Bradford had actually not appeared at the hearing.

{¶7} The men met two days later and Shay's father gave Bradford $500 the day before Bradford was to testify against Shay. Immediately after that transaction, Chief Caudill and other law enforcement arrested Bradford for bribery.

{¶8} Bradford proceeded to trial. At trial, Shay's fiancee, Shay's father, and Chief Caudill testified. No one mentioned whether Bradford had ever been subpoenaed as a witness, and no one testified that Bradford had been sworn as a witness in any proceeding. At the close of the state's case in chief, Bradford made a Crim.R. 29 motion for acquittal without argument; the state opposed the motion, but also gave no argument.

{¶9} The trial court went through the elements of bribery, under R.C. 2912.02(D), and noted what evidence the state had produced regarding each element. Specifically, the court noted, "the defendant had been subpoenaed to testify at the grand jury on the 27th." (Tr. at 423.) Then, it stated, "[I]f the trier-

of-fact, being the jury, believes uh, the substance of the- uh, uh, of the content of the State's Exhibits '1' and '2,' [the video surveillance recordings] uh, then there appears to be some acknowledgement by uh, the defendant that he was aware that he was uh, subpoenaed and/or sworn as a witness in this case, being subpoenaed." (Tr. at 423-424.)

{¶10} Thus, the trial court overruled Bradford's motion for acquittal and counsel proceeded to closing arguments. The jury convicted Bradford of bribery and the court sentenced him to four years of incarceration. Bradford now appeals.

ASSIGNMENTS OF ERROR

I. "The trial court violated [Appellant's] rights to due process and a fair trial when, in the absence of sufficient evidence, the trial court convicted [Appellant] of bribery under R.C. 2921.02(D), in violation of his Fifth, Sixth, and Fourteenth Amendment rights under the United States Constitution, and Sections 10 and 16, Article I of the Ohio Constitution." II. "The trial court committed plain error when it failed to properly instruct the jury regarding its deliberations, in violation of [Appellant's] Fifth, Sixth, and Fourteenth Amendment rights under the United States Constitution, and Sections 10 and 16, Article I of the Ohio Constitution.

III. "Trial counsel rendered ineffective assistance of counsel in violation of [Appellant's] Fifth, Sixth, and Fourteenth Amendment rights under the United States Constitution, and Sections 10 and 16, Article I of the Ohio Constitution.

ASSIGNMENT OF ERROR I

A. Standard of Review

{¶11} In his first assignment of error, Appellant contends that the trial court violated his rights to due process and a fair trial when, in the absence of sufficient evidence, the trial court convicted him of bribery under R.C. 2921.02(D), in violation of his Fifth, Sixth, and Fourteenth Amendment rights under the United States Constitution, and Sections 10 and 16, Article I of the Ohio Constitution.

"An appellate court's function when reviewing the sufficiency of the evidence to support a criminal conviction is to examine the evidence admitted at trial to determine whether such evidence, if believed, would convince the average mind of the defendant's guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. The relevant inquiry is whether, after viewing the evidence in a light most favorable to the prosecution, any rational trier of fact could have found the essential elements of the crime proven beyond a reasonable doubt." State v. Jenks, 61 Ohio ...


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