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State v. Tyree

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Twelfth District, Fayette

June 12, 2017

STATE OF OHIO, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
LANCE E. TYREE, Defendant-Appellant.

         CRIMINAL APPEAL FROM FAYETTE COUNTY COURT OF COMMON PLEAS Case No. CRI 20160108

          Jess C. Weade, Fayette County Prosecuting Attorney, for plaintiff-appellee.

          Steven H. Eckstein, for defendant-appellant.

          OPINION

          PIPER, J.

         {¶ 1} Defendant-appellant, Lance Tyree, appeals his conviction in the Fayette County Court of Common Pleas for domestic violence.

         {¶ 2} Tyree, who had twice before been convicted of domestic violence, went to the victim's home and later choked her during an argument. The victim, who shared two children with Tyree, was able to free herself from Tyree's choke hold, and ran out of the house. The victim called the police department, and entered her car to drive away. She then saw a police officer, stopped him, and told him what Tyree had done to her. The officer told the victim to return to her home, which she did.

         {¶ 3} However, upon her arrival to her house, the victim saw that her house was on fire and that Tyree was trying to put the fire out. The victim left again, and informed the same police officer that her house was on fire. The police officer called the fire department, and went with the victim back to her house. There, they were met by the fire department and by another police officer who saw Tyree at the rear of the victim's home.

         {¶ 4} Tyree was ultimately arrested for domestic violence, and pled not guilty to the charges. Because Tyree had two previous convictions for domestic violence, the charge was filed as a felony of the third degree, and the matter was considered by the common pleas court. During the final pretrial hearing, Tyree orally moved the court to appoint him new counsel. However, the trial court denied Tyree's request, and the matter proceeded to trial. A jury found Tyree guilty, and the trial court sentenced him to three years in prison. Tyree now appeals his conviction, raising the following assignments of error.

         {¶ 5} Assignment of Error No. 1:

         {¶ 6} THE TRIAL COURT COMMITTED REVERSIBLE ERROR AND DENIED DEFENDANT-APPELLANT A FAIR TRIAL AND DUE PROCESS OF LAW WHEN IT DENIED HIS MOTION FOR NEW COUNSEL IN VIOLATION OF HIS FIFTH, SIXTH, AND FOURTEENTH AMENDMENT RIGHTS UNDER THE UNITED STATES CONSTITUTION, AND SECTIONS 10 AND 16, ARTICLE I OF THE OHIO CONSTITUTION.

         {¶ 7} Tyree argues in his first assignment of error that the trial court should have granted his motion for new counsel.

         {¶ 8} "An indigent defendant has no right to have a particular attorney represent him and therefore must demonstrate 'good cause' to warrant substitution of counsel." State v. Liso, 12th Dist. Brown Nos. CA2013-11-013 and CA2013-11-016, 2014-Ohio-3549, ¶ 7. "Good cause" includes a conflict of interest, a complete breakdown in communication, or an irreconcilable conflict which leads to an apparently unjust result. State v. Bullock, 12th Dist. Clermont No. CA2005-04-031, 2006-Ohio-598, ¶ 13.

         {¶ 9} "The decision whether to substitute an appointed attorney for an indigent defendant is within the trial court's discretion." State v. Bizzell, 12th Dist. Clinton No. CA2006-04-015, 2007-Ohio-2160, ¶ 6. This court reviews a trial court's decision denying a defendant's request to substitute appointed counsel under an abuse of discretion standard. State v. Hubbard, 12th Dist. Warren No. CA2007-01-008, 2008-Ohio-2630, ¶ 5. An abuse of discretion implies that the court's decision was unreasonable, arbitrary, or unconscionable, and not merely an error of law or judgment. Liso at ¶ 8.

         {¶ 10} During the final pretrial hearing, Tyree asked the trial court why the original date of his trial had been rescheduled. At that point, Tyree's counsel explained that she had requested a continuance due to a conflict she had with the original date. After the trial court explained that it had ...


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