FROM JUDGMENT ENTERED IN THE LORAIN MUNICIPAL COURT COUNTY OF
LORAIN, OHIO CASE No. 2016CRB00648.
D. TOTH, Attorney at Law, for Appellant.
CITY PROSECUTOR for Appellee.
DECISION AND JOURNAL ENTRY
Appellant, Larry Knox, appeals from his conviction for
obstructing official business in the Lorain Municipal Court.
In March of 2016, Mr. Knox was arrested and charged with
obstructing official business under Lorain Codified
Ordinances 525.07(a), a misdemeanor of the second degree. He
signed a written waiver of right to an attorney, pled no
contest, and was found guilty by the trial court. The court
sentenced him to thirty days in jail and fined him $100.00.
The court suspended payment of the fine, suspended nineteen
days of jail-time, gave Mr. Knox credit for eleven days
served in jail, and then placed him on one year of monitored
Mr. Knox now appeals from his conviction and raises one
assignment of error for this Court's review.
THE TRIAL COURT ERRED WHEN IT SENTENCED THE APPELLANT TO A
JAIL SENTENCE WHEN THERE IS NO RECORDED WAIVER OF COUNSEL
THAT COMPLIES WITH CRIMINAL RULE 22.
In his sole assignment of error, Mr. Knox argues that the
trial court erred in failing to record his waiver of counsel
in open court in accordance with Crim.R. 22 and Crim.R. 44.
On March 16, 2016, Mr. Knox signed a one-page written waiver
of his right to an attorney, which was accepted and signed by
the trial court judge. Mr. Knox pled no contest to
obstructing official business and the court found him guilty
of the offense. The court sentenced Mr. Knox to thirty days
in jail, granted him eleven days jail-time credit, and
suspended the remaining nineteen days. The court ordered a
$100.00 fine, but suspended payment of the fine. Mr. Knox was
ordered to pay court costs and placed on one year of
monitored time. "'Monitored time' means a period
of time during which an offender continues to be under the
control of the sentencing court or parole board, subject to
no conditions other than leading a law-abiding life."
The Supreme Court of Ohio has held that "a defendant has
the right of self-representation and 'that he may proceed
to defend himself without counsel when he voluntarily, and
knowingly, and intelligently elects to do so.'"
State v. Ott, 9th Dist. Summit No. 27953,
2017-Ohio-521, ¶ 5, quoting State v. Gibson, 45
Ohio St.2d 366 (1976), paragraph one of the syllabus. For a
waiver of counsel to be effective, the trial court has to
make a sufficient inquiry to determine whether the defendant
fully understands and relinquishes that right, which includes
advising the defendant of the dangers and disadvantages of
self-representation. See Ott at ¶ 5. "A
meaningful dialogue between the court and the defendant is
required in misdemeanor cases with the possibility of
imprisonment" and written statements do not constitute a
meaningful dialogue. State v. Mascaro, 81 Ohio
App.3d 214, 216 (9th Dist.1991). Accordingly, "[a]t the
very least, then, any waiver of counsel must be made on the
record in open court * * *." State v. Brooke,113 Ohio St.3d 199, 2007-Ohio-1533, ¶ 24.
"Presuming a waiver of the Sixth Amendment right of an
accused to the assistance of counsel from a silent record is