FROM JUDGMENT ENTERED IN THE STOW MUNICIPAL COURT COUNTY OF
SUMMIT, OHIO CASE No. 2015 CRB 0760
LORENZON, Attorney at Law, for Appellant.
GREGORY M. WARD, Attorney at Law, for Appellee.
DECISION AND JOURNAL ENTRY
Appellant, Suk Rai, appeals the Stow Municipal Court's
order denying his motion to withdraw plea. For the reasons
set forth below, this Court reverses.
Mr. Rai asserts that he came to the United States from Bhutan
in 2010 and held the status of permanent resident at the time
of his arrest for domestic violence in March 2015. According
to the record, Mr. Rai was arrested for domestic violence
against his wife for an incident that occurred on March 12,
2015. Mr. Rai does not speak English; rather, he speaks
Nepalese. His initial appearance before the court took place
on March 16, 2015, and he was held without bond. A Nepalese
interpreter was present in court on March 17, 2015. On that
day, Mr. Rai signed an "Acknowledgment and Waiver of
Rights" in which he waived his right to counsel and
acknowledged the possible consequences of his guilty plea
because of his non-citizenship. Mr. Rai then pleaded guilty
to the domestic violence charge.
On February 28, 2017, Mr. Rai filed a motion to withdraw his
guilty plea under R.C. 2943.031, Crim.R. 32.1, and the Sixth
Amendment and requested an "emergency" hearing
because "deportation [was] imminent." The gist of
Mr. Rai's motion was that the translator was not
effective and he, therefore, did not understand the nature of
the proceedings and the consequences of his guilty plea.
Among other things, Mr. Rai asserted that, had he known at
the time of his plea that he was subject to removal from the
United States, he never would have entered his plea. Mr. Rai
submitted his own affidavit, as well as affidavits from his
wife and daughter with his motion.
The trial court denied the motion without a hearing, stating
it "specifically informed the defendant that he had the
right to an attorney and that one would be appointed to
represent him if he could not afford one" and
"specifically informed the defendant of the
ramifications of the conviction as he was not a
citizen." The trial court relied on the
"Acknowledgement and Waiver of Rights" form that
had been signed by Mr. Rai. In denying Mr. Rai's motion,
the trial court concluded that Mr. Rai had presented a
"distorted view" of what had occurred in court and
that Mr. Rai understood and waived his rights.
Mr. Rai now appeals, raising five assignments of error for
this Court's review. This Court addresses the third
assignment of error first, as it is dispositive of the
of Error Number Three
COURT ERRED BY NOT ENSURING THAT A COMPETENT INTERPRETER WAS
PRESENT AND, THEREFORE, DID NOT COMPLY WITH [R.C.] 2943.031.
Mr. Rai argues the trial court erred in denying his motion to
withdraw his guilty plea in that it failed to determine that
he understood the potential immigration consequences of his
guilty plea. Mr. Rai contends the consequences ...