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State v. Lawson

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Eighth District, Cuyahoga

June 8, 2017

STATE OF OHIO PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE
v.
ANTHONY LAWSON DEFENDANT-APPELLANT

         Criminal Appeal from the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas Case Nos. CR-15-597706-A and CR-16-607588-A

         REVERSED AND REMANDED.

          ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT Thomas A. Rein.

          ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEE Michael C. O'Malley Cuyahoga County Prosecutor By: Andrew T. Gatti Assistant County Prosecutor Justice Center.

          BEFORE: McCormack, P.J., Laster Mays, J., and Celebrezze, J.

          JOURNAL ENTRY AND OPINION

          TIM McCORMACK, PRESIDING JUDGE.

         {¶1} Defendant-appellant Anthony Lawson appeals from a judgment of the Cuyahoga Court of Common Pleas that imposed consecutive sentences for his offenses of escape and obstruction of justice in two separate cases. He claims the trial court did not make the requisite findings before imposing consecutive sentences. He also claims the trial court improperly imposed court costs in the escape case. Upon a review of the record, we find merit to these claims.

         {¶2} Lawson was on the court's mental health docket for schizophrenia. In Cuyahoga C.P. No. CR-15-597706-A, he was charged in July 2015 for escape. He left a community-based correctional facility ("CBCF") before the end of his term because he felt the facility was ridden with drug activities. In September 2015, he pleaded guilty to escape and was sentenced to two years of community control. However, he stopped reporting to his probation officer in March 2016. A capias was issued in May 2016.

         {¶3} An incident on June 26, 2016, led to a charge of obstructing official business against Lawson in Cuyahoga C.P. No. CR-16-607588-A. Lawson visited Edgewater Park with his fiancée. When their vehicle, driven by his fiancée, left the park and got on Route 2, the vehicle was pulled over by a Metroparks police officer for a license plate violation. According to Lawson, after the vehicle stopped, the officer immediately pointed his gun at him. Frightened by the gun, he got out of the vehicle, and ran across Route 2. The officer apprehended him quickly and used his Taser twice to subdue him. Lawson was charged with obstructing official business, a felony of the fifth degree, for putting the life of the officer at substantial risk of harm.

         {¶4} Lawson pleaded guilty in both cases - escape in 597706 and obstructing official business in 607588. The trial court sentenced him to one year in prison in the escape case and one year in prison in the obstruction case. Noting Lawson had several prior offenses, one of them involved violence - in that he hit a neighbor with a shovel -the court ordered the two prison terms to be served consecutively. Regarding the statutory findings required for consecutive sentences, the court stated only that "consecutive sentences are necessary to protect the public." The journal entries in both cases are devoid of any findings for the imposition of consecutive sentences.

         {¶5} On appeal, Lawson raises three assignments of error:

1. The trial court erred by ordering Appellant to serve a consecutive sentence without making the appropriate findings required by R.C. 2929.14 and HB 86.
2. The trial court erred by ordering Appellant to pay costs when it did not properly comply with the statute.
3. The court costs imposed at the sentencing hearing infringes upon appellant's rights under the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution, R.C. 2929.18, [R.C. 2929.19(B)(5)], R.C. ...

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