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State v. Martin

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Eleventh District, Trumbull

September 5, 2017

STATE OF OHIO, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
DANIELLE K. MARTIN, Defendant-Appellant.

         Criminal Appeals from the Trumbull County Court, Central District, Case Nos. 15 TRC 01554 A and 15 CRB 00443 A.

          Dennis Watkins, Trumbull County Prosecutor, and Deena L DeVico, Assistant Prosecutor, Administration Building, Fourth (For Plaintiff-Appellee).

          Albert A. Palombaro, (For Defendant-Appellant).

          OPINION

          CYNTHIA WESTCOTT RICE, P.J.

         {¶1} Appellant, Danielle K. Martin, appeals from the trial court's final judgments following her no-contest pleas to operating a vehicle while impaired, failure to comply, marked lanes, and a seat belt violation. At issue is whether the trial court erred in denying her motion to dismiss all charges due to a violation of her right to a speedy trial. We reverse the trial court's judgment and vacate her convictions.

         {¶2} Following a pursuit by officers on November 21, 2015, appellant was charged with operating a vehicle under the influence, no seatbelt, failure to stop at a red light, reckless operation, a marked lanes violation, open container, and failure to comply. A pretrial was set for December 14, 2015. On that date, appellant appeared with her attorney who, because he was new to the case, requested the matter be reset for pretrial. The court granted the request and reset the case for January 13, 2016. On that date, appellant again appeared with her attorney, who advised the court he had only received notice of the pretrial the previous day; he stated he had just received discovery and, as a result, again requested the court to reset the matter. The court granted the request and a pretrial was reset for February 8, 2016. On that date, appellant appeared with counsel. Counsel advised the state had extended a plea offer to appellant and, in order to fully consider the offer, requested a thirty-day continuance. The court granted the request. The matter was set for another pretrial on March 14, 2016. On that date, counsel for appellant indicated plea negotiations had not been "resolved." Counsel therefore requested the court to set the matter for trial.

         {¶3} Trial was set for March 28, 2016. On that date, appellant appeared with counsel, but, "for good cause shown, " the court reset the trial for May 2, 2016. On May 2, 2016, the trial court reset the trial date "[d]ue to conflicting notices" for May 16, 2016. On that date, appellant appeared with counsel. Counsel, however, sought leave to withdraw. The court granted counsel's motion and "reset [the] matter * * * to allow [appellant] to secure new counsel." On June 7, 2016, the matter was set for pretrial on June 20, 2016. On June 16, 2016, appellant retained new counsel and requested a continuance of the June 20 pretrial, which was granted. On June 29, 2016, appellant's counsel filed a motion to dismiss based upon a violation of her right to a speedy trial, to which the state duly responded.

         {¶4} On August 18, 2016, the trial court entered judgment denying appellant's motion. The court found 22 days were charged against the state from the date of the commencement of the speedy-trial clock, November 22, 2015 through the date of the first pretrial, December 14, 2015. The court determined speedy-trial time tolled from December 14, 2015 through March 14, 2016, due to motions to continue made by appellant's counsel. The court found 14 days charged against the state between March 14, 2016, when counsel requested the matter be set for trial, and March 28, 2016, when appellant appeared with counsel for trial, but the matter was reset for May 2, 2016. The court found the speedy-trial clock tolled from May 2, 2016 through May 16, 2016, the newly-set date of the trial, due to an illness from which appellant's counsel was suffering. The trial court further found the clock tolled from May 16, 2016, the date counsel was granted leave to withdraw, through June 16, 2016, due to appellant's lack of counsel. Finally, the court determined the speedy trial clock tolled from June 16, 2016, the date new counsel moved for a continuance, through June 29, 2016, the date of the filing of appellant's motion to dismiss. In total, the court found 36 days had passed for the purpose of speedy-trial calculation and concluded appellant's motion to dismiss must be denied.

         {¶5} The trial court set appellant's case for jury trial on September 28, 2015. Appellant filed a motion to reconsider the trial court's judgment on September 7, 2016. It does not appear the trial court entered a formal ruling on the motion but, on October 3, 2016, appellant changed her plea to no contest to OVI, failure to comply, marked lanes and a seatbelt violation. Appellant filed this appeal assigning the following error:

         {¶6} "The court erred when it denied the defendant's motion to dismiss for want of speedy trial."

         {¶7} The right to a speedy trial is guaranteed by the United States and Ohio Constitutions. State v. Pachay, 64 Ohio St.2d 218, 219 (1980). Ohio's speedy trial statute codifies the constitutional guarantee of a speedy trial. Id. Speedy trial issues present mixed questions of law and fact. State v. Hiatt, 120 Ohio App.3d 247, 261 (4th Dist.1997). We review questions of law de novo and apply the clearly erroneous standard to questions of fact. State v. Evans, 11th Dist. Trumbull No. 2003-T-0132, 2005-Ohio-1787, ¶32. Due deference is accorded the trial court's factual findings if they are supported by competent, credible evidence, but we freely review the application of law to the facts. State v. Kist, 173 Ohio App.3d 158, 2007-Ohio-4773 (11th Dist.) When reviewing the legal issues presented in a speedy-trial challenge, appellate courts must strictly construe the relevant statutes against the state. Brecksville v. Cook, 75 Ohio St.3d 53, 57 (1996). Appellate courts must count the days of delay chargeable to either side and determine whether the matter was tried within the time limits set by R.C. 2945.71. State v. Blumensaadt, 11th Dist. Lake No. 2000-L-107, 2001 WL 1116458, *6 (Sept. 21, 2001).

         {¶8} R.C. 2945.71(B)(2) requires that a defendant charged on a first-degree misdemeanor be brought to trial within 90 days after arrest or service of summons. Appellant's highest charge was a misdemeanor of the first degree; thus, the state was required to bring her to trial within 90 days of her arrest. Moreover, R.C. 2945.72 provides, in relevant part:

         {¶9} "The time within which an accused must be brought to trial * * * may be extended only by the following:

         {¶10} ...


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