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City of Fremont v. Sauls

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Sixth District

September 13, 2013

City of Fremont Appellee
v.
James R. Sauls, III Appellant

Trial Court No. TRD 1202746

Jeremiah S. Ray, for appellant.

DECISION AND JUDGMENT

OSOWIK, J.

(¶ 1} This is an appeal from a judgment of the Fremont Municipal Court, Sandusky County, Ohio, which convicted appellant of one count of speeding, in violation of Fremont Municipal Code 333.03(c). For the reasons set forth below, this court affirms the judgment of the trial court.

(¶ 2} Appellant, James R. Sauls, III, sets forth the following three assignments of error:

I. The trial court found appellant guilty by incorrectly conflating two distinct legal standards.
II. The trial court erred in entering a judgment of guilty where there was a lack of sufficient evidence.
III. The verdict finding appellant guilty is against the manifest weight of the evidence.

(¶ 3} The following undisputed facts are relevant to this appeal. On June 12, 2012, Officer Lester Daniels of the Fremont Police Department was on duty during the afternoon shift. Officer Daniels was traveling eastbound over the Miles Newton Bridge. That location is subject to a posted speed limit of 25 m.p.h. Officer Daniels observed appellant traveling westbound over the bridge. Appellant captured the attention of the officer because the officer observed that appellant, "was speeding pretty good." Officer Daniels activated his radar which he had calibrated and found to be fully functional within an hour prior to the incident. Officer Daniels clocked appellant by radar traveling 46 m.p.h. in a 25 m.p.h., 21 m.p.h. in excess of the lawful speed limit.

(¶ 4} Officer Daniels pulled over appellant who was polite and cooperative during the stop. It was the impression of the officer that appellant failed to realize the speeding violation. Appellant was issued a speeding citation. On December 7, 2012, the matter proceeded to a bench trial. Appellant elected to not be present at the hearing with the consent of the parties. Officer Daniels presented detailed testimony establishing the functionality of his radar equipment, the applicable speed limit of 25 m.p.h. at the location of the offense, and appellant's violation, as reflected by appellant being clocked by radar traveling at 46 m.p.h. at that location in the city of Fremont, Ohio. Appellant was found guilty of speeding in violation of Fremont Municipal Code 333.03(c) and given a $75 fine and ordered to pay $75 in court costs. This appeal ensued.

(¶ 5} We find that the assignments of error are best addressed by first examining appellant's related second and third assignments of error. In the second assignment of error, appellant asserts that the verdict was not supported by sufficient evidence. The term "sufficiency" of the evidence presents a question of law as to whether the evidence is legally adequate to support a verdict as to all elements of the crime. State v. Thompkins, 78 Ohio St.3d 380, 386, 678 N.E.2d 541 (1997). The relevant inquiry is whether after reviewing the evidence in a light most favorable to the prosecution, a rational trier of fact could have found the elements of the crime proven beyond a reasonable doubt. State v. Jenks, 61 Ohio St.3d 259, 574 N.E.2d 492 (1991), paragraph two of the syllabus.

(¶ 6} In the third assignment of error, appellant maintains that the guilty verdict was against the manifest weight of the evidence. A manifest weight challenge questions whether the state has met its burden of persuasion. State v. Davis, 6th Dist. Wood No. WD-10-077, 2012-Ohio-1394, 17. In making this determination, this court sits as a "thirteenth juror" and after reviewing the record, weighing the evidence and reasonable inferences, considering the credibility of witnesses and resolving conflicts in the evidence, we ultimately determine whether the trial court lost its way and created a manifest miscarriage of justice such that a conviction must be reversed. Thompkins at 386.

(¶ 7} We have carefully reviewed the transcript of proceedings in this matter. The record clearly reflects that the lawful speed limit at the relevant location is 25 m.p.h. The record further reflects that on June 12, 2012, Officer Daniels was on duty in the city of Fremont, Ohio and had ensured the proper functioning of his radar equipment shortly before this incident. The record shows that Officer Daniels activated his radar equipment upon observing appellant "speeding pretty good." Lastly, the record shows that appellant was recorded by radar traveling at 46 m.p.h. in a 25 m.p.h. zone.

(¶ 8} Fremont Municipal Code 333.03(c) establishes, "It is prima facie unlawful for any person to exceed any of the speed limitations in subsections (b)(1)A to (b)(6) hereof" As the court stated in Cleveland v. Keah (1952 ...


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