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State v. Jones

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Sixth District

September 20, 2013

State of Ohio/City of Toledo Appellee
v.
Denzell D. Jones Appellant

Trial Court Nos. CRB-11-19060-0103 CRB-11-19060-0203

David L. Toska, Chief Prosecutor, City of Toledo, and Sharon D. Gaich, Assistant Prosecutor, for appellee.

Stephen D. Long, for appellant.

DECISION AND JUDGMENT

YARBROUGH, J.

(¶ 1} Appellant, Denzell Jones, appeals from the judgment of the Toledo Municipal Court, entered upon a jury verdict, convicting him of obstructing official business, disorderly conduct, and resisting arrest. Finding no error, we affirm.

I. Facts and Procedural Background

(¶ 2} On December 5, 2011, two City of Toledo Water Department workers arrived at appellant's residence to shut off his water service for non-payment. The workers testified that upon their arrival, appellant came running out of his house, yelling, and ordering them to get off his private property. The workers retreated to their truck. Appellant then went inside his house and retrieved a video camera, phone, and several documents, including a quitclaim deed, which he claimed gave him the right to prohibit anyone from coming onto his property.

(¶ 3} After receiving emergency calls from both the water department and appellant, Toledo Police Officer George Roush responded to the residence. Roush explained to appellant that the water department had the right to turn off his service for non-payment, but nonetheless attempted to negotiate a resolution whereby the water department would leave the service on if appellant made a payment. Appellant, however, believed that he was legally able to, and in fact did discharge his debt. In addition, appellant believed that because gold and silver are the only authorized forms of currency, and because U.S. currency is no longer backed by gold or silver, it was impossible for appellant to pay the water department. Thus, he contended that he did not owe anything to the water department. Furthermore, appellant attempted to explain to Roush that because he owned the property, the workers could not come on it to turn off the water. Upon hearing this, Roush determined that a resolution could not be reached, and requested additional officers at the scene.

(¶ 4} Officers Dorothy Hayes and Clarence Young, and Sergeant Jeffrey Glover arrived as backup. The officers attempted to explain to appellant that the city had a right to turn off his water if he did not pay his bill, but appellant would not accept the explanation. Appellant was loud and argumentative, and demanded that the officers get off his private property. Hayes testified that at one point a neighbor came out on the porch to see what was going on. The officers informed appellant that if he did not permit the workers to turn off the water, he would be arrested for obstructing official business.

(¶ 5} The officers then directed the workers to turn off the water. As the workers were approaching, Roush and Hayes testified that appellant took an aggressive step towards the workers. At that point, Young grabbed appellant by the shoulder or collar, and appellant spun away and started to head toward his house. A brief scuffle ensued, resulting in appellant being taken to the ground. Roush and Hayes testified that appellant was facedown with his hands under his body, would not put his hands behind his body, and was kicking and yelling. Eventually, appellant was subdued, handcuffed, and placed in a cruiser.

(¶ 6} Appellant was charged with obstructing official business in violation of Toledo Municipal Code 525.07(a), a second degree misdemeanor, disorderly conduct in violation of Toledo Municipal Code 509.03(a)(3), a minor misdemeanor, and resisting arrest in violation of Toledo Municipal Code 525.09(a), a second degree misdemeanor. Appellant pleaded not guilty and the matter proceeded to a jury trial. Appellant waived his right to appointed counsel and elected to represent himself. A public defender was also provided to assist appellant if he had any questions.

(¶ 7} During a break in the trial after the first witness, the following exchange occurred:

THE COURT: Let's go back on the record before we call the jurors in. Juror Number 7 * * * stopped [the court bailiff] to report something he felt was important to stop. [Court bailiff], if you would just state on the record what he said to you.
[COURT BAILIFF]: He mentioned that the federal jury that he sat on dealt with the issue of a nonpayment of taxes and the ...

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