The State ex rel. Peoples, Appellant,
Johnson, Judge, Appellee.
Submitted May 2, 2017
from the Court of Appeals for Franklin County, No. 15AP-765,
A. Peoples, pro se.
1} David A. Peoples appeals from a judgment of the
Tenth District Court of Appeals denying a writ of mandamus to
compel Judge David L. Johnson to vacate Peoples's
aggravated murder conviction and issue a final appealable
order disposing of one count of having a weapon while under
disability that was charged in the same criminal case.
2} Peoples has been imprisoned for more than 15
years, his aggravated murder conviction and sentence have
been upheld on direct appeal, and his collateral attack on
the finality of his conviction has been rejected by the Tenth
District Court of Appeals and denied review by this court. It
is well established that a writ of mandamus is not available
when the relator has an adequate remedy in the ordinary
course of the law; here, Peoples's appeal from the denial
of his motion to vacate his judgment of conviction was an
3} Accordingly, his complaint is barred by the
doctrine of res judicata, and we affirm the judgment of the
court of appeals.
and Procedural History
4} In 2001, the Franklin County Grand Jury indicted
Peoples for one count of aggravated murder with firearm and
drive-by-shooting specifications and one count of having a
weapon while under disability. A jury returned verdicts
finding him guilty of aggravated murder and both
specifications in July 2002, and Judge Johnson imposed an
aggregate 34-year prison sentence. However, there is no
indication in the record of any disposition of or sentence
for the weapons charge.
5} On direct appeal, Peoples did not question the
finality of the judgment with respect to the aggravated
murder conviction, and the court of appeals affirmed it.
State v. Peoples, 10th Dist. Franklin No. 02AP-945,
6} In February 2014, Peoples moved to vacate his
aggravated murder conviction, asserting that it was void
because the judgment of conviction did not dispose of the
count of having a weapon while under disability. State v.
Peoples, 10th Dist. Franklin No. 14AP-271,
2014-Ohio-5526, ¶ 5. The trial court denied that motion,
and the court of appeals affirmed. Although the appellate
court recognized that nothing in the record showed the
disposition of the weapons charge, it nonetheless concluded
that the trial court had jurisdiction to sentence Peoples,
that the judgment of conviction satisfied Crim.R. 32(C), and
that the doctrine of res judicata barred Peoples from raising
his claim because he could have raised it in his direct
appeal. Id. at ¶ 5, 8-11. We declined to accept
jurisdiction over Peoples's appeal from that judgment.
142 Ohio St.3d 1453, 2015-Ohio-1591, 29 N.E.3d 1006.
7} On August 10, 2015, Peoples filed this mandamus
action in the Tenth District Court of Appeals to compel Judge
Johnson to vacate the aggravated murder conviction and issue
a judgment in his criminal case that disposes of all counts
in the indictment. Judge Johnson moved to dismiss, asserting
that res judicata barred Peoples's claim and that the
matter was moot because the trial court had already denied
the motion to vacate the judgment of conviction. Because the
motion to dismiss presented matters outside the pleadings,
the court of appeals treated it as a motion for summary
judgment. See Civ.R. 12(B).
8} The court of appeals determined that Peoples had
an adequate remedy in the ordinary course of the law by way
of appeal and that having exercised that right, his request
for a writ of mandamus was barred by the doctrine of res
judicata. Therefore, the court concluded that no genuine
issue of material fact existed and that Judge Johnson was
entitled to judgment as a matter of law.
9} On appeal to this court, Peoples contends that
the court of appeals erred in granting summary judgment to
Judge Johnson because the trial court's judgment of
conviction fails to dispose of all counts charged in the
indictment and thus was not a final appealable order. He
maintains that the court of appeals lacked subject-matter
jurisdiction to review either his conviction or the denial of
his motion to vacate that conviction, and he therefore
asserts that his mandamus action is not barred by res
judicata and that he is entitled to a writ of mandamus ...