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State v. Oates

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Third District

June 24, 2013

STATE OF OHIO, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,
v.
ABRAHAM OATES, JR., DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.

Appeal from Hardin County Common Pleas Court Trial Court No. 20122050 CRI

Todd A. Workman for Appellant

Bradford W. Bailey and Destiny R. Hudson for Appellee

OPINION

PRESTON, P.J.

{¶1} Defendant-appellant, Abraham Oates, Jr., appeals the Hardin County Court of Common Pleas' entry sentencing him to one year of community control after a jury found him guilty of assault of a school teacher on school premises in violation of R.C. 2903.13(A)/(C)(2)(e), [1] a felony of the fifth degree. Oates argues that he was denied effective assistance of counsel and that the community-control condition barring him from attending "any Kenton City Schools athletic events" is overbroad and unnecessarily impinges on his liberty. For the following reasons, we affirm.

{¶2} On March 1, 2012, the Hardin County Grand Jury indicted Oates on one count-assault of a school teacher on school premises in violation of R.C. 2903.13(A)/(C)(2)(e), a fifth degree felony. (Indictment, Doc. No. 1). The indictment stemmed from a confrontation between Oates and his son's basketball coach, Ryan Ludwig, following a basketball game on February 7, 2012. (Id); (Trial Tr. at 179, 189-190). On March 29, 2012, Oates entered a plea of not guilty. (Entry, Doc. No. 10).

{¶3} The case proceeded to a jury trial on November 5, 2012. (See Judgment Entry, Doc. No. 23). The jury found Oates guilty of the indicted count. (Id.). On December 13, 2012, the trial court sentenced Oates to one year of community control with the Community Corrections Department serving Hardin County. (Sentencing Tr. at 23-24). (See also Entry of Sentence, Doc. No. 28). Among the conditions of Oates' community control, the trial court ordered that Oates "[h]ave no contact with Ludwig" and "[n]ot attend any Kenton City Schools athletic events." (Entry of Sentence, Doc. No. 28). The trial court filed its entry of sentence on December 17, 2012. (Id.).

{¶4} On December 28, 2012, Oates filed a notice of appeal. (Doc. No. 30). Oates raises two assignments of error for our review.

Assignment of Error No. I
The defendant's right to the effective assistance of counsel guaranteed under the [sic] Section 10, Article I of the Ohio Constitution, and Sixth and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution was violated by trial counsel's failure to properly prepare for trial.

{¶5} In his first assignment of error, Oates argues that he was denied effective assistance of counsel because his trial counsel failed to request a self-defense jury instruction, despite trial counsel "present[ing] the evidence in support of the self defense claim." (Appellant's Brief at 13). Oates argues that had the court given the jury a self-defense instruction, the jury "likely" would have concluded that Oates acted in self-defense. (Id. at 12). Oates also argues that trial counsel was ineffective because he failed to review the trial court's proposed jury instructions and because "he did not know the elements of the only charge before the jury." (Id.)

{¶6} A defendant asserting a claim of ineffective assistance of counsel must establish: (1) the counsel's performance was deficient or unreasonable under the circumstances; and (2) the deficient performance prejudiced the defendant. State v. Kole, 92 Ohio St.3d 303, 306 (2001), citing Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. 668, 687, 104 S.Ct. 2052 (1984).

{¶7} In order to show counsel's conduct was deficient or unreasonable, the defendant must overcome the presumption that counsel provided competent representation and must show that counsel's actions were not trial strategies prompted by reasonable professional judgment. Strickland, 466 U.S. at 689. Counsel is entitled to a strong presumption that all decisions fall within the wide range of reasonable professional assistance. State v. Sallie, 81 Ohio St.3d 673, 675 (1998). Tactical or strategic trial decisions, even if unsuccessful, do not generally constitute ineffective assistance. State v. Frazier, 61 Ohio St.3d 247, 255 (1991). Rather, the errors complained of must amount to a substantial violation of counsel's essential duties to his client. See State v. Bradley, 42 Ohio St.3d 136, 141-142 (1989), citing State v. Lytle, 48 Ohio St.2d 391, 396 (1976).

{¶8} Prejudice results when "there is a reasonable probability that, but for counsel's unprofessional errors, the result of the proceeding would have been different." Bradley, 42 Ohio St.3d at 142, quoting Strickland, 466 U.S. at 691 (internal quotation marks omitted). "A reasonable probability is a probability sufficient to undermine confidence in the outcome." Id, quoting Strickland, 466 U.S. at 694 (internal quotation marks omitted).

{¶9} In this case, Oates argues that his attorney denied him effective assistance of counsel by failing to request a self-defense jury instruction. "Generally, the failure to request jury instructions is purely a matter of trial tactics and will not be disturbed upon review." State v. Herrington, 9th Dist. No. 25150, 2010-Ohio-6455, ¶ 11, citing State v. Clayton, 62 Ohio St.2d 45, 47-49 (1980). "A court's jury instructions must be based on the actual issues in the case as presented by the evidence. * * * Thus, a court should not give an instruction unless it is specifically applicable to the facts in the case." State v. Fritz, 163 Ohio App.3d 276, 2005-Ohio-4736, 19 (2d Dist.), citing State v. Guster, 66 Ohio St.2d 266 (1981) (additional citations and internal quotation marks omitted).

{¶10} "Self-defense is an affirmative defense, which means that the burden of going forward is on the defendant who must prove each element by a preponderance of the evidence." State v. Kimmell, 3d Dist. No. 16-10-06, 2011-Ohio-660, ¶ 19, citing R.C. 2901.05 and State v. Densmore, 3d Dist. No. 7-08-04, 2009-Ohio-6870, ΒΆ 24. Affirmative defenses such as self-defense "'do not seek to negate any of the elements of the offense which the State is required to prove' but rather they 'admit[ ] the facts claimed by the prosecution and then rel[y] on independent facts or circumstances which the defendant claims exempt him ...


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