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State v. Richardson

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Second District, Montgomery

December 22, 2017

STATE OF OHIO Plaintiff-Appellee
CLINTON RICHARDSON Defendant-Appellant

         Criminal Appeal from Common Pleas Court, T.C. No. 12CR3299

          ANDREW T. FRENCH, Atty. Attorney for Plaintiff-Appellee

          KRISTIN L. ARNOLD, Atty. Attorney for Defendant-Appellant


          FROELICH, J.

         {¶ 1} Clinton Richardson was convicted after a bench trial in the Montgomery County Court of Common Pleas of operating a vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol (prior felony OVI within 20 years/test refusal), a third-degree felony, and endangering children, a first-degree misdemeanor. Specifically, the State asserted that Richardson had driven while under the influence of hydrocodone; Richardson's child was in the vehicle at the time. On appeal, Richardson claimed that his convictions were based on insufficient evidence and were against the manifest weight of the evidence.

         {¶ 2} On March 4, 2015, we vacated Richardson's conviction on the ground that it was based on insufficient evidence. State v. Richardson, 2015-Ohio-757, 29 N.E.3d 354 (2d Dist.). We reasoned that the State's evidence "was not sufficient to establish a nexus between Richardson's impairment and any painkiller he was or was not taking." Id. at ¶ 26. In light of our holding, we did not address Richardson's manifest weight argument.

         {¶ 3} The State appealed our judgment, and the Ohio Supreme Court reversed. State v. Richardson, 150 Ohio St.3d 554, 2016-Ohio-8448, 84 N.E.3d 993. The Supreme Court noted, as we found, that there was sufficient evidence to establish that Richardson had ingested hydrocodone and that Richardson was impaired. However, the Court further concluded that there was sufficient evidence to support his OVI conviction, stating:

The dissent asserts that no rational factfinder could have linked Richardson's ingestion of hydrocodone with his demonstrated impairment. Dissenting opinion at ¶ 32. When the effects of a drug are sufficiently well known - as they are with hydrocodone - expert testimony linking ingestion of the drug with indicia of impairment is unnecessary. And there was lay testimony that connected Richardson's impairment to the hydrocodone, i.e., the testimony of an experienced and well-trained police officer. On these facts, we hold that the evidence was sufficient to support Richardson's OVI conviction.

(Emphasis in original.) Id. at ¶ 19. The Supreme Court remanded the matter to this appellate court for consideration of Richardson's manifest weight argument.

         {¶ 4} For the following reasons, we conclude that Richardson's convictions were not against the manifest weight of the evidence. Accordingly, the trial court's judgment will be affirmed.

         I. Factual and Procedural History

         {¶ 5} According to the State's evidence, at approximately 4:30 p.m. on October 31, 2012, Richardson rear-ended Deborah Leopold's vehicle as she waited at a traffic light to turn left from Third Street onto Wayne Avenue in Dayton. Richardson had not been driving fast, and there was no damage to Leopold's vehicle. When Leopold got out of her vehicle to talk with Richardson, she noticed that Richardson's speech was "very slurred and pretty much incomprehensible" and that he did not make eye contact. He also "fumbled" with his wallet and dropped all of his cards on the street while looking for his insurance information. Leopold did not notice any odor of an alcoholic beverage or see any open containers or drugs in Richardson's truck. She did notice that Richardson had a small child in the back seat, and she was concerned about Richardson's ability to drive. She called the police.

         {¶ 6} Dayton Police Officer Jonathan Miniard and his partner responded to the accident. Miniard approached Richardson in his vehicle and observed Richardson with "both hands on the steering wheel kind of slumped forward staring ahead." It took Richardson a moment to register the officer's presence. Miniard noticed a burnt smell, and he learned that Richardson had tried to light a cigarette and it singed the side of his hair. Richardson's truck was still running, so Officer Miniard asked Richardson to turn it off. Richardson "couldn't figure out how to put it back into park;" Officer Miniard did that for him and turned off the vehicle.

         {¶ 7} Officer Miniard asked Richardson to exit his vehicle. When he got out, he slid out of the driver's seat and was unsteady. The officer escorted Richardson to the front of his cruiser. Miniard asked Richardson if he had drunk anything or taken any medication. Richardson denied that he had consumed any alcohol, but stated that he was on pain medication. When asked if he had taken any, Richardson responded, "Yeah." Miniard noticed that Richardson had slurred speech, seemed to have difficulty understanding questions, and gave incoherent answers. Richardson told Miniard that he had to get his son home.

         {¶ 8} Officer Miniard testified that he had been involved in numerous OVI investigations in his 14 years as a Dayton police officer and that he had taken training and refresher courses on OVI detection. Miniard decided to administer field sobriety tests on Richardson, and he conducted the horizontal gaze nystagmus (HGN) test, the walk and turn test, and the one-leg stand test. Miniard noticed a 45 degree angle of nystagmus and slight jerking in Richardson's eyes during the HGN test, which indicated impairment. Richardson also had difficulty paying attention during the test. On the walk and turn test, Richardson exhibited seven out of eight "clues" indicating possible impairment. Officer Miniard marked three out of a possible four clues for impairment on the one-leg stand test. Miniard concluded that Richardson was under the influence of "some type of possibly narcotics, " and he placed Richardson under arrest.

         {¶ 9} Officer Miniard read Richardson BMV 2255 and asked him if he would submit to a blood test. Richardson refused. No chemical tests were performed. Richardson never indicated to Officer Miniard that he was having a medical emergency, and he did not ask for medical treatment; Richardson had reported to the officer that he had a bad back and problems with his neck prior to the accident. Miniard transported Richardson to jail.

         {¶ 10} The parties stipulated at trial that Richardson was previously convicted of felony OVI in State v. Richardson, Warren C.P. No. 2006 CR 23305.

         {¶ 11} On January 28, 2013, Richardson was indicted for OVI, in violation of R.C. 4511.19(A)(2), and endangering children, in violation of R.C. 2919.22(C)(1). R.C. 4511.19(A)(2) provides:

No person who, within twenty years of the conduct described in division (A)(2)(a) of this section, previously has been convicted of or pleaded guilty to a violation of this division, a violation of division (A)(1) or (B) of this section, or ...

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