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State v. Burch

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Eleventh District, Ashtabula

December 11, 2017

STATE OF OHIO, Plaintiff-Appellant,
v.
DENNIS A. BURCH, Defendant-Appellee.

         Criminal Appeal from the Ashtabula County Court of Common Pleas, Case No. 2017 CR 00009.

          Nicholas A. Iarocci, Ashtabula County Prosecutor, and Shelley M. Pratt, Assistant Prosecutor, Ashtabula County (For Plaintiff-Appellant).

          Margaret L. Brunarski, Assistant Public Defender, (For Defendant-Appellee).

          OPINION

          THOMAS R. WRIGHT, J.

         {¶1} Appellant, the state of Ohio, appeals the trial court's decision granting appellee's motion for a transcript of the recorded statements of the minor victim without holding a hearing. We reverse and remand.

         {¶2} Appellee, Dennis A. Burch, was indicted and charged with four counts of gross sexual imposition in January of 2017 to which Burch pleaded not guilty.

         {¶3} In February of 2017, the state filed its certification of nondisclosure pursuant to Crim.R.16(D) in which it explains that the state will not disclose the minor victim's video interviews. The state's certification states that nondisclosure "is for one or more of the following reasons * * *." It then recites four of the five reasons permitted for nondisclosure under Crim.R. 16(D)(1)-(5) without providing any case-specific factual details or support.

         {¶4} In April of 2017, Burch moved the court for transcripts of his interviews as well as official transcripts of all "material" witness interviews conducted by the Geneva-on-the-Lake Police Department and Ashtabula County Children Services. Burch's motion alleges the transcripts would be invaluable in preparing his defense and that he is indigent and unable to pay. The trial court granted Burch's motion in part and overruled it in part.

         {¶5} The narrow issue on appeal concerns the trial court's decision ordering the disclosure of the minor victim's statements. The trial court ordered the state to provide Burch with "a complete and accurate written transcript of the video recorded statements of the victim in this case, forthwith." It explains that the prosecution provided Burch with a partial, unofficial transcript of the victim's interview and that it had failed to detail the reasons supporting its certification of nondisclosure.

         {¶6} The state moved for leave to appeal, which was granted and the trial court stayed the underlying proceedings pending appeal.

         {¶7} The state raises one assigned error:

         {¶8} "The trial court abused its discretion in granting appellee's motion for a transcript of the victim's video interview without a hearing pursuant to Crim.R. 16(F)."

         {¶9} As stated, the state filed its certification of nondisclosure in February 2017 and it cites Crim.R. 16(D)(1)-(3) and (5) as reasons for its nondisclosure of complete copies of the victim's statements. Thereafter, Burch moved for copies of all "material" witnesses recorded statements, including the victim's.

         {¶10} Crim.R. 16 governs discovery in criminal cases, and the granting or overruling of discovery motions in a criminal case rests within the sound discretion of the court. State v. Blake, ...


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