Court of Appeals of Ohio, Eighth District, Cuyahoga
County Court of Common Pleas Case No. CR-13-578384-A
Application for Reopening Motion No. 512569
APPELLANT Latesha Willis, pro se.
ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEE Michael C. O'Malley Cuyahoga
County Prosecutor Katherine Mullin Assistant County
JOURNAL ENTRY AND OPINION
A. GALLAGHER, ADMINISTRATIVE JUDGE.
On December 1, 2017, the applicant, Latesha Willis, pursuant
to App.R. 26(B), applied to reopen this court's judgment
in State v. Willis, 8th Dist. Cuyahoga No. 101052,
2014-Ohio-3729, in which this court affirmed her convictions
and sentences for aggravated robbery with one- and three-year
firearm specifications and possessing criminal
tools. Willis now claims that her appellate
counsel was ineffective for not arguing (1) insufficient
evidence focusing on the operability of the gun as compared
to the use or brandishing of the gun, which counsel did
argue, (2) manifest weight of the evidence again focusing on
the operability of the gun as compared to the evidence of
duress, which counsel did argue and (3) the propriety of the
sentence. For the following reasons, this court denies the
application to reopen.
App.R. 26(B)(1) and (2)(b) require applications claiming
ineffective assistance of appellate counsel to be filed
within 90 days from journalization of the decision unless the
applicant shows good cause for filing at a later time. The
December 2017 application was filed approximately three years
and three months after this court's decision on August
28, 2014. Thus, it is untimely on its face.
The only good cause that Willis proffers is that she has
shown that her appellate counsel was ineffective. She tenders
no case law or other reasoning to support her position.
The Supreme Court of Ohio in State v. LaMar, 102
Ohio St.3d 467, 2004-Ohio-3976, 812 N.E.2d 970, and State
v. Gumm, 103 Ohio St.3d 162, 2004-Ohio-4755, 814 N.E.2d
861, held that the 90-day deadline for filing must be
strictly enforced. In Gumm, the Supreme Court of
Ohio ruled that in promulgating the 90-day deadline, Ohio
"erected a reasonable procedural requirement for
triggering the right to an adjudication." Id.
at ¶ 8, quoting Logan v. Zimmerman Brush Co.,
455 U.S. 422, 437, 102 S.Ct. 1148, 71 L.Ed.2d 265 (1982).
Furthermore, consistent enforcement of the rule protects the
state's legitimate interest in finality and ensures the
prompt resolution of any claims of ineffective assistance of
appellate counsel. In both cases, the court ruled that the
applicants could not ignore the 90-day deadline, even if it
meant retaining new counsel or filing the applications
themselves. The court reaffirmed the principle that lack of
effort, lack of imagination, and ignorance of the law do not
establish good cause for failure to seek timely relief under
In State v. Howard, 8th Dist. Cuyahoga No. 97695,
2012-Ohio-3459, reopening disallowed,
2012-Ohio-3459, Howard argued that it would be unjust to deny
an application to reopen an appeal due to a procedural defect
when a genuine issue regarding the effectiveness of appellate
counsel is shown. He cited several pre-Gumm and
Lamar cases in support of his position. This court
rejected the argument, because the Supreme Court of Ohio made
it very clear that an applicant must show extraordinary
reasons for not timely filing. Claims of a "dead-bang
winner" do not state good cause. So too in this case,
Willis' refocusing of the same arguments appellate
counsel made and asserting that they show ineffective
assistance of appellate counsel does not state good cause.
Accordingly, this court denies the application to reopen.
C. GALLAGHER, J., and KATHLEEN ANN KEOUGH, J., CONCUR.
On September 18, 2014, Willis robbed
the Dollar Bank in Richmond Heights, Ohio. She entered the
bank 15 minutes before closing, gave the only teller a note
to fill up a bag with money, and showed the teller a black
gun in a bag she was carrying. The teller gave Willis $3,
924. Very shortly after that, the police arrested Willis for
robbery. They recovered $3, 924, an unloaded handgun, and a
loaded magazine. Willis claimed that two men forced her to
commit the robbery. The trial judge sentenced her to three