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State v. Griesbaum

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Eleventh District, Ashtabula

October 30, 2017

STATE OF OHIO, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
JOSEPH D. GRIESBAUM, Defendant-Appellant.

         Criminal 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 Plaintiff-Appellee).

          Marie Lane, Ashtabula County Public Defender, Inc., 4817 State Road, #202, Ashtabula, OH 44004 (For Defendant-Appellant).

          OPINION

          DIANE V. GRENDELL, J.

         {¶1} 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.

         {¶2} 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).

         {¶3} On May 9, 2016, Griesbaum appeared for arraignment and entered a plea of not guilty.

         {¶4} 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[1]; 304.2[2]; 304.3.2[3] and violations of the City of Conneaut Zoning, Housing and Building Ordinances and regulations including but not limited to Section 1323.01(j)[4] and 1323.02(a)-(b) pertaining to public nuisances." Conneaut Municipal Ordinance 1323.02 provides:

(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.

         {¶5} On December 1, 2016, the State filed its Response.

         {¶6} On December 19, 2016, a suppression hearing was held. At the hearing, the following testimony was provided:

         {¶7} 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."

         {¶8} 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 ...


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