FROM JUDGMENT ENTERED IN THE COURT OF COMMON PLEAS COUNTY OF
LORAIN, OHIO CASE No. 15CR092200.
L. DOUGHTEN, Attorney at Law, for Appellant.
P. WILL, Prosecuting Attorney, for Appellee.
DECISION AND JOURNAL ENTRY
A. SCHAFER JUDGE
Defendant-Appellant, Bishop C. Howard, appeals the judgment
of the Lorain County Court of Common Pleas. We affirm.
This matter arises out of a 35-count indictment the Lorain
County Grand Jury returned against Mr. Howard in Case No.
15CR092200. After pleading not guilty to the charges,
Mr. Howard entered into a sentencing agreement with the
State. Mr. Howard agreed to withdraw his initial plea, enter
a plea of guilty to the amended and supplemented indictment,
and serve a sentence of life in prison with no possibility of
parole. Mr. Howard also agreed to waive his rights to
challenge his conviction and the plea bargain, seek
post-conviction relief, and to appeal his conviction-with an
exception for any claims of ineffective assistance of counsel
and prosecutorial misconduct. In exchange, the State agreed
to dismiss all eight of the aggravating capital
specifications which would have made Mr. Howard eligible to
receive a sentence of death.
The court accepted Mr. Howard's guilty plea and the
parties' sentencing agreement. The court found Mr. Howard
guilty and convicted him of the 34 remaining counts in
15CR092200. Regarding two counts of aggravated
murder, Mr. Howard received sentences of life in prison
without the possibility of parole. As to all of the other
counts, the court performed the appropriate analysis
regarding merged and allied offenses, and Mr. Howard was
sentenced on those charges in accordance with the agreement.
The court found that all of the sentencing counts run
concurrent to each other, for a total aggregate sentence of
life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Additionally, the court found that the firearm specifications
merge, and Mr. Howard was sentenced to a mandatory three-year
consecutive sentence-to be served prior to the underlying
felony-on those specifications.
The trial court thereafter appointed appellate counsel and
Mr. Howard timely appealed.
On April 5, 2017, appellate counsel filed a brief on Mr.
Howard's behalf pursuant to Anders v.
California, 386 U.S. 738 (1967). Mr. Howard's
appellate counsel avers that he has reviewed the record and
concluded that there are no meritorious issues to pursue on
appeal and contemporaneously asks to withdraw as counsel of
record in this matter. The record indicates that Mr. Howard
was served with a copy of the brief filed by appellate
counsel, and this Court issued a magistrate's order
affording Mr. Howard an opportunity to raise arguments after
review of the brief. Mr. Howard has not submitted additional
arguments for our consideration or otherwise responded.
Mr. Howard's appellate counsel identified two potential
issues for appeal, though he concluded that neither issue
presents a viable basis for appellate review. First, counsel
addressed whether the trial court's abuse of discretion
and acceptance of an invalid plea could present an issue for
appeal. Second, counsel examined ineffective assistance of
trial counsel as a possible issue.
Appellate counsel concluded that a thorough review of the
record reveals that the trial judge substantially complied
with all requirements relating to the acceptance of the plea,
and that Mr. Howard voluntarily, knowingly, and affirmatively
waived his rights and entered his plea. Further, appellate
counsel concluded, based on the record, that trial counsel
appears to have performed competently and satisfactorily in
obtaining a plea deal and advising Mr. Howard to accept it.
Ultimately, appellate counsel noted that, per the sentencing
agreement, Mr. Howard waived his right to appeal except in
the instance of prosecutorial misconduct or ineffective
assistance of counsel, neither of which are evident under
Upon this Court's own full, independent examination of
the record, we agree that there are no appealable,
non-frivolous issues in this case. See State v.
Randies, 9th Dist. Summit No. 23857, 2008-Ohio-662,
¶ 6; citing State v. Lowe, 9th Dist. Lorain No.
97CA006758, 1998 Ohio App. LEXIS 1455 (Apr. 8, 1998).
Accordingly, we grant appellate ...