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City of Cleveland v. Tarver

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Eighth District, Cuyahoga

March 30, 2017

CITY OF CLEVELAND PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE
v.
ALICIA TARVER DEFENDANT-APPELLANT

         Criminal Appeal from the Cleveland Municipal Court Case No. 2016 CRB 024299

          ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLANT Robert L. Tobik Cuyahoga County Public Defender By: Erika B. Cunliffe Assistant Public Defender

          ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEE Barbara A. Langhenry Director of Law City of Cleveland By: Kimberly Barnett-Mills Chief City Prosecutor Karyn J. Lynn Assistant Prosecutor

          BEFORE: Kilbane, P.J., Blackmon, J., and Laster Mays, J.

          JOURNAL ENTRY AND OPINION

          MARY EILEEN KILBANE, PRESIDING JUDGE

         {¶1} In this accelerated appeal, defendant-appellant, Alicia Tarver ("Tarver"), appeals the trial court's order allowing her to be involuntarily medicated in order to render her competent to stand trial on a petty theft charge. Tarver assigns the following two errors for our review:

I. Whether the trial court's forced medication order violated Ms. Tarver's state and federal constitutional right to due process.
II. Whether the trial court's conclusion that it lacked jurisdiction to rule on Ms. Tarver's motion to stay its forced medication order because an appeal had been noted was erroneous.

         {¶2} On December 29, 2016, officers from the University Circle Police Department arrested Tarver for stealing a pack of cigarettes from a gas station located on Euclid Avenue in Cleveland, Ohio. Tarver was placed in jail. A bond was set at 10 percent of $1, 000 on December 31, 2016, but was not paid by Tarver.

         {¶3} On January 9, 2017, the trial court ordered a psychiatric evaluation because Tarver would "not talk to the court and walked away." Based on the psychiatric evaluation, on February 2, 2017, the trial court found that Tarver was incompetent to stand trial and remanded her to jail until a hospital bed became available at Northcoast Behavioral Healthcare Center ("Northcoast") on February 14, 2017.

         {¶4} The following day, on February 15, 2017, Northcoast requested permission from the trial court to forcibly medicate Tarver because Tarver lacked "substantial capacity to give or withhold informed consent to psychiatric medication." The doctor noted that Tarver "has remained mute during my attempts to speak with her. Even when confronted with the possibility of involuntary treatment, she did not respond to questions."

         {¶5} A hearing was held on February 23, 2017, regarding the request. Dr. Sherif Soliman, a forensic psychologist at Northcoast, testified that forcibly medicating Tarver outweighed any risks. According to the doctor, Tarver displayed symptoms of catatonia and psychosis. Tarver was aggressive towards staff the week prior to the hearing and was involuntarily medicated because of the emergency situation. The doctor stated that Tarver calmed down and suffered no side effects after being medicated. Although Tarver appeared more responsive in group therapy the day prior to the hearing, the doctor did not think that it was the result of the involuntary medication from the previous week.

         {¶6} The doctor admitted that he was not aware of the offense with which Tarver was charged, stating it was not relevant to his determination regarding involuntary medication. He did state, however, that it was very common to have individuals charged with misdemeanors treated involuntarily. At the conclusion of the hearing, the trial court ordered that Tarver be forcibly medicated.[1] The trial court refused to stay the matter pending appeal. The court of appeals granted Tarver's stay and set the matter for an accelerated hearing.

         Due ...


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