Court of Appeals of Ohio, Eighth District, Cuyahoga
Appeal from the Cleveland Municipal Court Case No. 2012 CRB
ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT John R. Christie Lewis, Brisbois,
Bisgaard & Smith, L.L.P.
ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEE Barbara A. Langhenry Law Director City
of Cleveland BY: James F. Sabrey William H. Armstrong
Assistant City Prosecutors.
BEFORE: E.T. Gallagher, J., E.A. Gallagher, P.J., and Laster
JOURNAL ENTRY AND OPINION
T. GALLAGHER, JUDGE.
Defendant-appellant, Michael Chappell ("Chappell"),
appeals the judgment of the Cleveland Municipal Court,
Housing Division, which imposed a fine of $10, 000 following
a no contest plea. Chappell raises the following assignments
of error for our review:
1. The trial court erred in entering judgment against
defendant without a formal change of plea.
2. The trial court erred by imposing a fine of 10 to 50 times
that recommended by the prosecutor.
3. The trial court erred by failing to reduce the fine, based
on the remedial efforts of the defendant and the lack of
objection or response by the prosecutor.
4. The trial court erred by failing to dismiss the case for
failure to prosecute.
After careful review of the record and relevant case law, we
reverse and remand for further proceedings consistent with
Procedural and Factual History
From December 16, 2010 to March 22, 2013, Chappell was the
owner of property located in Cleveland, Ohio. On March 5,
2012, Building and Housing Inspector, Pat Daley
("Daley), observed several violations on Chappell's
property, including unauthorized dumping and storage of dirt,
soil, concrete, brick, stone, metal, trash, roofing
materials, and other debris. On March 6, 2012, Daley issued
Chappell a notice of violation, ordering Chappell to remove
the materials from his property by April 5, 2012. On October
15, 2012, Daley observed that Chappell had not corrected the
relevant violations. As a result, a criminal complaint was
filed against Chappell, charging him with failing to comply
with notices of code violations pursuant to Cleveland
Codified Ordinances ("C.C.O.") 3103.25(e), a
first-degree misdemeanor, with each day from April 5, 2012 to
October 15, 2012 constituting "a separate
At the initial appearance, Chappell pleaded not guilty.
However, at a change of plea hearing held on May 7, 2013,
defense counsel expressed Chappell's willingness to enter
a no contest plea. After engaging in a plea colloquy with
Chappell advising him of the effect of his plea, the court
accepted Chappell's plea of no contest. On June 11, 2013,
the housing court imposed a fine in the amount ...