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City of Cleveland v. Chappell

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Eighth District, Cuyahoga

June 1, 2017

CITY OF CLEVELAND PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE
v.
MICHAEL R. CHAPPELL DEFENDANT-APPELLANT

         Criminal Appeal from the Cleveland Municipal Court Case No. 2012 CRB 042539

          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 Mays, J.

          JOURNAL ENTRY AND OPINION

          EILEEN T. GALLAGHER, JUDGE.

         {¶1} 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.

         {¶2} After careful review of the record and relevant case law, we reverse and remand for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.

         I. Procedural and Factual History

         {¶3} 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 violation."

         {¶4} 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 ...


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