Court of Appeals of Ohio, Eleventh District, Ashtabula
Appeal from the Ashtabula County Court of Common Pleas, Case
No. 2016 CR 00142.
Nicholas A. Iarocci, Ashtabula County Prosecutor, and Shelley
M. Pratt, Assistant Prosecutor, Ashtabula County Courthouse,
25 West Jefferson Street, Jefferson, OH 44047 (For
Lane, Ashtabula County Public Defender, Inc., 4817 State
Road, #202, Ashtabula, OH 44004 (For Defendant-Appellant).
V. GRENDELL, J.
Defendant-appellant, Joseph D. Griesbaum, appeals the
decision of the Ashtabula County Court of Common Pleas,
denying his Motion to Suppress. The issue before this court
is whether an otherwise valid administrative search warrant
for the interior of defendant's premises may be rendered
unreasonable by the fact that the defendant had been
prosecuted four months earlier for the condition of the
exterior of the premises. For the following reasons, we
affirm the decision of the court below.
On April 27, 2016, the Ashtabula County Grand Jury indicted
Griesbaum for the following: Illegal Manufacture of Drugs
(Count One), a felony of the first degree in violation of
R.C. 2925.04(A) and (C)(3)(b); Illegal Assembly or Possession
of Chemicals for the Manufacture of Drugs (Count Two), a
felony of the second degree in violation of R.C. 2925.041(A)
and (C)(2); and Possessing Criminal Tools (Count Three), a
felony of the fifth degree in violation of R.C. 2923.24(A).
On May 9, 2016, Griesbaum appeared for arraignment and
entered a plea of not guilty.
On November 3, 2016, Griesbaum filed a Motion to Suppress.
Griesbaum challenged the validity of an Administrative Search
Warrant, issued by the Conneaut Municipal Court on March 4,
2016. The Warrant authorized the search of "[t]he
residence and any and all garages and accessory structures
located at 479 West Jackson Street, Conneaut, Ohio, "
for "[violations of the Ohio Fire Code section
304.1; 304.2; 304.3.2 and violations of the City of
Conneaut Zoning, Housing and Building Ordinances and
regulations including but not limited to Section
1323.01(j) and 1323.02(a)-(b) pertaining to public
nuisances." Conneaut Municipal Ordinance 1323.02
(a) When a reasonable basis to believe that a public nuisance
exists, the Planning and Zoning Manager or his/her designee
shall inspect or cause the inspection of the premises on
which such public nuisance is believed to exist. The Fire
Chief and the Health Commissioner may and, upon request of
the Planning and Zoning Manager, shall inspect or cause the
inspection of the premises on which a public nuisance is
believed to exist.
(b) No owner or occupant of a premises shall permit the
existence of a public nuisance to continue on such premises.
On December 1, 2016, the State filed its Response.
On December 19, 2016, a suppression hearing was held. At the
hearing, the following testimony was provided:
James Hockaday, Conneaut City Manager, testified that he had
received numerous complaints over the course of a year about
Griesbaum's property on West Jackson Street. In March
2016, the City sought an administrative search warrant for
Griesbaum's property on the grounds that "there was
excessive hoarding and junk on the property and * * * reason
to believe that the inside of the home had the same
issues." Hockaday was aware Griesbaum had already been
cited for the exterior condition of the property in December
2015 and was given until April 2016 to remedy the situation.
Hockaday had personally viewed the property and noted that
debris "continued to accrue or [that the property] was
in at least as worse of shape."
Steve Sanford, Assistant Fire Chief, viewed Griesbaum's
property in early 2016 and observed "combustible
materials on the front of the structure or up against the
front of the structure." Sanford submitted an affidavit
in support of an administrative warrant wherein he stated:
"Based upon my experience as a Firefighter and a trained
Fire Inspector, it is my experience and opinion that when
combustible materials are placed on the exterior of a
residence in the abundance and manner as viewed * * * it is
indicative of ...