Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

State v. Watkins

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Twelfth District, Clermont

January 8, 2018

STATE OF OHIO, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
MICHAEL G. WATKINS, JR., Defendant-Appellant.

         CRIMINAL APPEAL FROM CLERMONT COUNTY COURT OF COMMON PLEAS Case No. 2016CR0442

          D. Vincent Faris, Clermont County Prosecuting Attorney, Nicholas A. Horton, for plaintiff-appellee.

          John Woliver, for defendant-appellant.

          OPINION

          HENDRICKSON, P.J.

         {¶ 1} Defendant-appellant, Michael G. Watkins Jr., appeals the bindover decision of the Clermont County Court of Common Pleas, Juvenile Division, and his conviction and sentence in the Clermont County Court of Common Pleas, General Division.

         {¶ 2} On May 9, 2016, 16-year-old Watkins executed a plan to rob two victims by having two minor codefendants lure them to a Clermont County apartment. Upon arriving at the apartment, Watkins and his codefendants threatened the victims with a firearm, then assaulted and robbed them. Following the completion of the robbery plan, the victims left the apartment and contacted the police who responded to the apartment and arrested Watkins. On May 10, 2016, the state filed a delinquency complaint alleging charges for felony aggravated robbery and misdemeanor assault. On May 30, 2016, while at a juvenile detention facility for the delinquency charges, Watkins assaulted a corrections officer. In turn, the state charged Watkins with felonious assault on a correctional facility employee.

         {¶ 3} The state moved for a mandatory bindover for criminal prosecution of the aggravated robbery charges and for a discretionary bindover for criminal prosecution of the assault charges. On June 8, 2016, the juvenile court held a probable cause hearing on the felony aggravated robbery and misdemeanor assault charges and heard arguments regarding the state's motion for mandatory transfer. As detailed below, the juvenile court found probable cause for the charges. Following the hearing, the juvenile court scheduled a probable cause hearing for the felonious assault charge for June 22, 2016, ordered a mental examination of Watkins, and scheduled an amenability hearing for July 18, 2016. The juvenile court also took Watkins' motion to dismiss the state's motion for mandatory bindover under advisement. At the June 22, 2016 hearing, the juvenile court found probable cause for the felonious assault charge. Additionally, the juvenile court once again ordered a mental examination of Watkins and scheduled an amenability hearing on the felonious assault charge for July 18, 2016. Pursuant to R.C. 2152.12(G), the juvenile court issued written notice of the hearing to the parties.

         {¶ 4} On June 30, 2016, Dr. Paul Deardorff conducted the court-ordered mental examination of Watkins. On July 13, 2016, the juvenile court journalized its earlier findings as follows: (1) it determined that Watkins was 16 years old at the time of the commission of the offenses, (2) the offenses would be felonies if committed by an adult, and (3) there was probable cause supporting the charges. However, the juvenile court denied the state's motion for mandatory bindover because it found Watkins did not have a firearm on or about his person or under his control while committing the offense, and did not display, brandish, indicate possession of or use a firearm to facilitate commission of the aggravated robberies. Rather, the juvenile court found probable cause for complicity to aggravated robbery. The juvenile court ordered a mental examination of Watkins and included notice of the hearing in its entry finding probable cause.

         {¶ 5} On July 18, 2016, the juvenile court conducted the amenability hearing. The juvenile court heard testimony from Watkins and Adam Burke, Watkins' probation officer. Burke testified regarding the contact he has had with Watkins, Watkins' history of delinquency, prior dispositions ordered on such delinquency, and Watkins' response to the prior rehabilitative efforts of the juvenile court. During the amenability hearing, the juvenile court acknowledged that a separate mental examination had not been completed in the aggravated robbery case. Upon inquiry by the juvenile court, counsel for both parties agreed to the use of the June 30, 2016 mental examination previously completed by Dr. Deardorff for the felonious assault case.

         {¶ 6} On July 25, 2016, the juvenile court issued an entry granting the state's motion for discretionary bindover of the aggravated robbery and assault charges for criminal prosecution. In so doing, the juvenile court noted Watkins was 16 years old at the time of the commission of the offenses, it previously found probable cause for the offenses, and had Watkins committed the offenses as an adult, the offenses would be felonies and a misdemeanor, respectively. In granting the state's motion, the juvenile court considered the factors favoring transfer pursuant to R.C. 2152.12(D) and the factors against transfer pursuant to R.C. 2152.12(E).

         {¶ 7} On August 23, 2016, the Clermont County Grand Jury returned a three-count indictment charging Watkins with two felony counts of aggravated robbery with gun specifications and one count of felonious assault. Watkins entered pleas of no contest to the two counts of aggravated robbery without the gun specifications and the count of felonious assault. Prior to sentencing, Watkins informed the trial court he wished to withdraw his pleas of no contest. The trial court held a hearing on the matter and determ ined Watkins wished to withdraw his pleas so that he could file a motion to dismiss the charges thereby preserving for appeal his constitutional challenges to the bindover procedure. The trial court determined it was without jurisdiction to review the juvenile court's bindover decision and denied Watkins' motion to withdraw his pleas. The trial court sentenced Watkins to an aggregate eight-year prison term, four-year prison terms on each aggravated robbery count running consecutive to each other and a concurrent twelve-month prison term for the felonious assault count. Watkins timely appealed.

         {¶ 8} Assignment of Error No.1:

         {¶ 9} THE JUVENILE COURT ERRED TO THE PREJUDICE OF APPELLANT BY GRANTING THE STATE'S MOTION TO RELINQUISH JURISDICTION.

         {¶ 10} Assignment of Error No. 3:

         {¶ 11} THE OPERATION OF R.C. 2152.12 AND 5139.41(C)(2) VIOLATES DEFENDANT'S RIGHT TO DUE PROCESS OF LAW AS PROTECTED BY THE FOURTEENTH AMENDMENT TO THE UNITED STATES CONSTITUTION AND THE OHIO CONSTITUTION.

         {¶ 12} Watkins contends the juvenile court erred by making findings unsupported by the record in its consideration of the factors favoring and against transfer pursuant to R.C. 2152.52(D) and (E). In turn, Watkins argues this failure resulted in the juvenile court abusing its discretion by granting the state's motion for a discretionary bindover. Watkins further asserts the juvenile court's decision to relinquish jurisdiction violated his due process rights pursuant to the United States and Ohio Constitutions because the juvenile court's decision- making process was "tainted by the court's own funding considerations."

         {¶ 13} Juvenile courts have exclusive original jurisdiction over proceedings involving a child alleged to have committed a delinquent act. R.C. 2151.23(A)(1). Therefore, proceedings regarding juveniles must originate in juvenile court and continue in such court unless it relinquishes jurisdiction in accordance with the bindover procedures set forth in R.C. 2152.10 and 2152.12. State v. J.T.S., 10th Dist. Franklin No. 14AP-516, 2015-Ohio-1103, ¶ 10. The Ohio Revised Code provides two types of bindover procedures, mandatory and discretionary. State v. D.W., 133 Ohio St.3d 434, 2012-Ohio-4544, ¶ 10. The present appeal involves the juvenile court's decision with respect to the latter.

         {¶ 14} Pursuant to R.C. 2152.12(B)(3), when deciding whether to transfer a juvenile to the adult court system, the juvenile court must consider and weigh certain statutory factors. The juvenile court has wide latitude in making its determination and we will not reverse its decision absent an abuse of discretion. State v. Ramirez, 12th Dist. Butler No. CA2010-11- 305, 2011-Ohio-6531, ¶ 12. An abuse of discretion is more than an error of law or judgment. Rather, it suggests the "trial court's decision was unreasonable, arbitrary or unconscionable." State v. Perkins, 12th Dist. Clinton No. CA2005-01-002, 2005-Ohio-6557, ¶ 8. "A review under the abuse-of-discretion standard is a deferential review." State v. Morris, 132 Ohio St.3d 337, 2012-Ohio-2407, ¶ 14. "As long as the [juvenile] court considers the appropriate statutory factors and there is some rational basis in the record to support the court's findings when applying those factors, we cannot conclude that the [juvenile] court abused its discretion in deciding whether to transfer jurisdiction." State v. Phillips, 12th Dist. Clinton No. CA2009-03-001, 2010-Ohio-2711, ¶ 39.

         {¶ 15} According to R.C. 2152.12(B),

* * * after a complaint has been filed alleging that a child is a delinquent child for committing an act that would be a felony if committed by an adult, the juvenile court at a hearing may transfer the case if the court finds all of the following:
(1) The child was fourteen years of age or older at the time of the act charged.
(2) There is probable cause to believe that the child committed the act charged.
(3) The child is not amenable to care or rehabilitation within the juvenile system, and the safety of the community may require that the child be subject to adult sanctions. In making its decision under this division, the court shall consider whether the applicable factors under division (D) of this section indicating that the case should be transferred outweigh the applicable factors under division (E) of this section indicating that the case should not be transferred. The record shall indicate the specific factors that were applicable and that the court weighed.

         {¶ 16} Watkins does not contest the juvenile court's findings with respect to R.C. 2152.12(B)(1) and (2), and only challenges the juvenile court's weighing of the factors for consideration as set forth in R.C. 2152.12:

(D) In considering whether to transfer a child under division (B) of this section, the juvenile court shall consider the following relevant factors, and any other relevant factors, ...

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.