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State v. Ward

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Eighth District, Cuyahoga

March 16, 2017

STATE OF OHIO, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE
v.
REDRICK J. WARD, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT

         Criminal Appeal from the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas Case Nos. CR-15-594143-A and CR-15-597429-A.

          ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT Russell S. Bensing

          ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEE Michael C. O'Malley Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Andrea N. Isabella Assistant County Prosecutor

          BEFORE: Stewart, J., McCormack, P.J., and E.T. Gallagher, J.

          JOURNAL ENTRY AND OPINION

          MELODY J. STEWART, JUDGE

         {¶1} Defendant-appellant Redrick Ward pleaded guilty to having a weapon while under disability in Cuyahoga C.P. No. CR-15-594143. While awaiting sentencing on that case, he was engaged in plea negotiations in Cuyahoga C.P. No. CR-15-597429. He filed a pro se motion to withdraw his guilty plea in CR-15-594143, but the court did not specifically rule on the motion. Ward eventually pleaded guilty to burglary in CR-15-597429. In a combined sentencing proceeding, the court sentenced Ward to three years on the disability count and one year on the burglary count, the terms to be served consecutively. The issues on appeal are whether the court abused its discretion by denying the motion to withdraw the guilty plea and that the record fails to support the court's finding that consecutive sentences were required.

         I. Motion to Withdraw Guilty Plea

         {¶2} Ward argues that the court failed to give him a fair and impartial hearing on the motion to withdraw the guilty plea. Although the court did not specifically rule on the motion, by proceeding to sentence Ward, we assume that the court's failure to issue a ruling is tantamount to denying the motion. State v. Larry, 8th Dist. Cuyahoga No. 87534, 2006-Ohio-6578, ¶ 11.

         {¶3} "The scope of a hearing on a defendant's motion to withdraw a plea should reflect the substantive merit of the motion; bold assertions without evidentiary support do not merit the scrutiny that substantiated allegations would merit." State v. Small, 8th Dist. Cuyahoga No. 104813, 2017-Ohio-110, ¶ 14, citing State v. Hall, 8th Dist. Cuyahoga No. 55289, 1989 Ohio App. LEXIS 1602, 2-3 (Apr. 27, 1989).

         {¶4} Ward's pro se motion to withdraw his guilty plea contained a single sentence: "Redrick Ward, Defendant moves this Court to withdraw plea; due to the terms and conditions were not as agreed with parties or counsel; the Defendant demonstrates the notice as an expedited filing to withdraw the plea of the Defendant."

         {¶5} Ward failed to state what terms and conditions formed the basis of his plea. Neither did Ward state how the plea as entered differed in any respect from those terms and conditions. The motion lacked any facial merit, so the court was not obligated to conduct a full hearing.

         {¶6} In addition, the record indicates that Ward essentially abandoned the motion to withdraw the guilty plea. When Ward mentioned to the court that he had a pending motion to withdraw his guilty plea in CR-15-594143, the court acknowledged its awareness of the motion and told Ward that "[t]ypically lawyers make a formal motion and you can't just arbitrarily say that you want to withdraw your plea. There has to be a real, legitimate motions [sic] - reasons filed for it." Ward replied that he had reasons for the motion. The court then told Ward that if he had what he thought were legitimate reasons for filing the motion to withdraw the guilty plea, he should speak to defense counsel about it:

But the rules are pretty strict. So [defense counsel] would have to be - he would be in a better position to answer those questions for you. It doesn't change the fact that you're here and you're scheduled now. Whether I would or would not allow you to withdraw the plea, I don't know, because I don't know what any of the reasons are. I wouldn't make a decision based on this trial on that, on that hope that might happen. Because it's -it may or may not be a possibility. I don't know.

         {¶7} The court then stressed that the issue of the motion to withdraw the guilty plea was completely separate and distinct from the pending trial in CR-15-597429, and "whether or not, you know, I let you withdraw a plea, which may or may not happen. And that's something, again, you need to talk to [defense counsel] about because I don't know what your reasons are, okay?" The court went into recess. When it reconvened, Ward told the court that he would not be accepting the plea ...


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