Court of Appeals of Ohio, Fourth District, Hocking
E. Hamilton, Jr., Chillicothe, Ohio, pro se appellant.
Colleen S. Williams, Assistant Hocking County Prosecutor,
Logan, Ohio, for appellee.
DECISION AND JUDGMENT ENTRY
William H. Harsha, Judge
James E. Hamilton, Jr. appeals from a judgment denying his
postconviction motion to correct his sentence. Hamilton filed
the motion after he had previously appealed his conviction
upon his guilty plea. He asserts that the trial court erred
and abused its discretion by denying his motion without an
evidentiary hearing, and by incorrectly ruling that the
sentence was not contrary to law and that his claims are
barred by res judicata.
We reject Hamilton's assertion because res judicata
barred his nonconstitutional claims, i.e. that the trial
court erred by failing to make the required findings to
impose the mandatory prison term, and by failing to advise
him of his right to appeal his sentence. And insofar as
Hamilton's motion raised constitutional issues, it should
have been considered to be a time-barred petition for
postconviction relief that the trial court lacked
jurisdiction to address. Consequently, we overrule his
assignment of error and affirm the judgment of the trial
court, as modified, to reflect the dismissal of his
In February 2005, after Hamilton pleaded guilty to one count
of aggravated murder in violation of R.C. 2903.01(A), the
trial court sentenced him to life imprisonment with parole
eligibility after serving twenty years.
In his direct appeal Hamilton claimed that he was deprived of
his constitutional right to due process when the trial court
accepted his unknowing, unintelligent, and involuntary guilty
plea and that his trial counsel rendered ineffective
assistance by failing to object to the trial court's
misstatements. We rejected Hamilton's arguments because
the record showed that the trial court repeatedly and
accurately advised Hamilton that his aggravated murder
conviction carried a life sentence with parole eligibility
after twenty years. We found that his trial counsel's
failure to object to the trial court's misstatement about
post-release control was not prejudicial. Hamilton had failed
to show that he would not have pled guilty if counsel had
objected to the court's misstatements, thus allowing the
court to then correctly inform him that he would be subject
to parole instead of post-release control. We affirmed the
trial court's judgment. State v. Hamilton, 4th
Dist. Hocking No. 05CA4, 2005-Ohio-5450, ¶ 13, 22-23.
In 2010, Hamilton filed an unsuccessful pro se motion to
withdraw his guilty plea and a motion for a new trial.
His current appeal is based upon a 2016, pro se
"verified motion to correct sentence." That motion
claimed that his sentence was contrary to law and the errors
and defects at the sentencing hearing and in the sentencing
entry deprived him of due process and a fair proceeding. He
argued that his contentions were not barred by waiver or res
judicata. He contended that his sentence "includes
purported mandatory and more than the minimum sentence"
but "none of the required language to impose mandatory
or more than the minimum were cited" in the entry or at
the hearing. He argued that R.C. 2929.13(F) required the
court to issue findings and justifications for its sentence.
Next, he argued that his case was a capital case that
required a three-judge panel to determine his guilt and the
appropriate sentence. Hamilton also argued that the
sentencing entry did not inform him of his right to appeal
his sentence if it were contrary to law as provided in R.C.
2953.08(B)(2). Hamilton requested the trial court issue a
corrected amended sentencing entry that complies with felony
sentencing statutes and that would entitle him to judicial
release, earned credit, and eligibility for the "DRC
Sponsored 80% Early Release Program."
The trial court denied the motion.
ASSIGNMENT OF ERROR
Hamilton assigns the following error for our review:
THE TRIAL COURT ERRED AND ABUSED ITS DISCRETION; WHEN IT
OVERRULED AND DENIED DEFENDANTS PROPERLY FILED VERIFIED
MOTION TO CORRECT SENTENCE ALLEGING SENTENCING ERRORS,
WITHOUT ANY REAL REVIEW OR HOLDING A HEARING, AFTER
SCHEDULING ONE; BY INCORRECTLY RULING THAT THE SENTENCE
IMPOSED WAS NOT CONTRARY TO LAW AND FURTHER INCORPORATING THE
STATE'S FLAWED ARGUMENT THAT THESE ERRORS CAN ...