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State v. Knox

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Ninth District, Lorain

January 8, 2018

STATE OF OHIO Appellee
v.
LARRY KNOX Appellant

          APPEAL FROM JUDGMENT ENTERED IN THE LORAIN MUNICIPAL COURT COUNTY OF LORAIN, OHIO CASE No. 2016CRB00648.

          JOHN D. TOTH, Attorney at Law, for Appellant.

          LORAIN CITY PROSECUTOR for Appellee.

          DECISION AND JOURNAL ENTRY

          THOMAS A. TEODOSIO

         {¶1} Appellant, Larry Knox, appeals from his conviction for obstructing official business in the Lorain Municipal Court. We affirm.

         I.

         {¶2} 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 time.

         {¶3} Mr. Knox now appeals from his conviction and raises one assignment of error for this Court's review.

          II.

         ASSIGNMENT OF ERROR

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.

         {¶4} 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. We disagree.

         {¶5} 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." R.C. 2929.01(Y).

         {¶6} 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, ΒΆ 24. "Presuming a waiver of the Sixth Amendment right of an accused to the assistance of counsel from a silent record is impermissible. ...


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