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State v. Beasley

Supreme Court of Ohio

January 4, 2018

The State of Ohio, Appellee,
v.
Beasley, Appellant.

          Submitted May 16, 2017

         Appeal from the Court of Appeals for Hamilton County, No. C-150431, 2016-Ohio-1603.

          Joseph T. Deters, Hamilton County Prosecuting Attorney, and Sean M. Donovan, Assistant Prosecuting Attorney, for appellee.

          Raymond T. Faller, Hamilton County Public Defender, and Joshua A. Thompson, Assistant Public Defender, for appellant.

          French, J.

         {¶ 1} Defendant-appellant, Andrea Beasley, appeals the judgment of the First District Court of Appeals, which concluded that Beasley forfeited her right to challenge the trial court's policy of refusing to accept no-contest pleas. We agree with the court of appeals that the trial court erred by adhering to such an arbitrary policy. But we also conclude that Beasley preserved the error for appeal. For the reasons below, we reverse the judgment of the court of appeals and remand the matter to the trial court to allow Beasley to enter a new plea in accordance with Crim.R. 11.

         FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         {¶ 2} A Hamilton County grand jury indicted Beasley for possession of cocaine discovered during a traffic stop. Beasley filed a motion to suppress evidence of the cocaine on the grounds that the stop and search of her vehicle violated both the United States and Ohio Constitutions. Following a hearing, the trial court denied the motion.

         {¶ 3} On the day of trial, Beasley and her attorney appeared before the trial court judge to enter her plea, with the prosecutor present. Before entering her plea, Beasley's attorney summarized on the record an earlier discussion that took place between the judge, prosecutor, and Beasley's attorney in the judge's chambers:

Judge, we had a conversation in chambers. My client wishes to plead no contest. But as this Court explained, the Court has a blanket policy [of] not accepting no contest pleas, and the Court will only accept a [plea of] guilty or not guilty.
The State has agreed to allow her to plead no contest, and we discussed the fact that my client wants to plead no contest to preserve her right to appeal the motion to suppress that was denied. But the Court reiterated that it has a policy of not accepting no contest pleas under any circumstances.
She does not dispute the facts of the case. But in light of her options, she wants to enter the plea.

         {¶ 4} The judge responded, "I see what you're saying. Okay. All right. Anything from the State regarding that?"

         {¶ 5} The prosecutor replied, ...


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