Court of Appeals of Ohio, Eighth District, Cuyahoga
Appeal from the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas Case
A. Mancino, Jr. ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT
Michael C. O'Malley Cuyahoga County Prosecutor, Carl
Mazzone Assistant Prosecuting Attorney ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEE
BEFORE: Celebrezze, J., Laster Mays, P.J., and Keough, J.
JOURNAL ENTRY AND OPINION
D. CELEBREZZE, JR., J.
Defendant-appellant, Mose Stewart ("appellant"),
brings this appeal challenging his convictions for attempted
rape and disrupting public services. Specifically, appellant
argues that he was denied his right to counsel and that his
due process rights were violated when the trial court denied
his motion and request to withdraw his guilty plea and failed
to discuss the results of his competency evaluation on the
record. After a thorough review of the record and law, this
Factual and Procedural History
The instant matter arose from a November 30, 2015 incident
involving appellant and his cousin. In Cuyahoga C.P. No.
CR-16-603483-A, appellant was charged in a four-count
indictment on March 1, 2016, with (1) attempted rape, a
second-degree felony in violation of R.C. 2923.02 and
2907.02(A); (2) gross sexual imposition, a fourth-degree
felony in violation of R.C. 2907.05(A)(1); (3) kidnapping, a
first-degree felony in violation of R.C. 2905.01(A)(4) with a
furthermore specification alleging that "the victim of
the offense is eighteen years of age or older"; and (4)
disrupting public services, a fourth-degree felony in
violation of R.C. 2909.04(A)(3). Appellant was arraigned on
March 9, 2016. He pled not guilty to the indictment.
Appellant waived his right to a jury trial and elected to try
the case to the trial court. A bench trial commenced on
December 15, 2016. During the state's case in chief,
appellant decided to accept the plea agreement that the state
offered during pretrial proceedings.
On December 15, 2016, appellant pled guilty to attempted rape
as charged in Count 1 of the indictment and disrupting public
services as charged in Count 4 of the indictment. Counts 2
and 3 were nolled. Pursuant to the plea agreement, appellant
would be required to register as a Tier III sex offender.
Throughout the trial court's proceedings, appointed
counsel made several requests to withdraw as counsel,
appellant made several requests for new counsel, and
appellant made multiple requests to withdraw his guilty plea.
The trial court denied these motions and requests, which will
be discussed in further detail in the analysis of
appellant's first and second assignments of error below.
The trial court held a sentencing hearing on January 5, 2017.
During this hearing, the court reviewed appellant's
reporting requirements as a Tier III sex offender. Appellant
indicated that he did not understand the court's
advisements. As a result, the trial court continued
The trial court held a sentencing hearing on January 12,
2017. Defense counsel advised the trial court that appellant
wanted to have new counsel appointed to represent him and to
withdraw his guilty plea. The trial court denied
appellant's request for new counsel and to withdraw his
guilty plea. Furthermore, counsel stated that he was
concerned about appellant's mental and physical health
and requested that appellant be referred for a psychological
evaluation. The trial court referred appellant to Northcoast
Behavioral Healthcare for a competency evaluation over the
The trial court held a hearing on March 6, 2017. The court
indicated that it received the court psychiatric clinic's
report, which concluded that appellant "is malingering
and does not have a present mental condition that causes him
to be unable to understand the nature and objective of the
legal proceeding against him and assist in his defense."
(Tr. 140.) The state stipulated to the court psychiatric
clinic's report. Defense counsel and appellant objected
to the report, and appellant specifically disputed the
finding that he was malingering. As a result, the trial court
continued the matter in order to schedule a hearing at which
the doctor that evaluated appellant could testify regarding
his evaluation and report.
On March 27, 2017, the prosecutor, defense counsel, and
appellant stipulated to the court psychiatric clinic's
report. As a result, the trial court proceeded to sentencing.
The trial court sentenced appellant to a prison term of six
years on Count 1 and a prison term of 18 months on Count 4.
The trial court ordered the counts to run concurrently. The
trial court reviewed appellant's reporting requirements
as a Tier III sex offender. Appellant indicated that he
understood these requirements.
The trial court also addressed appellant's violation of
postrelease control in Cuyahoga C.P. No.
CR-13-578539-B. The trial court terminated appellant's
community control sanctions and ordered him to serve the
balance of his sentence in prison. The trial court ordered
appellant's six-year prison sentence to be served
consecutively to the sentence for violating postrelease
On April 7, 2017, appellant filed the instant appeal
challenging the trial court's judgment. He assigns four
errors for review:
I. [Appellant] was denied his right to counsel when the court
refused to allow counsel to withdraw.
II. [Appellant] was denied due process of law when the court
refused to allow [appellant] to withdraw his plea or conduct
III. [Appellant] was denied due process of law when the court
failed to record on the record the results of a competency
IV. [Appellant] was denied due process of law when the court
ignored [appellant's] request during a hearing.
Law and Analysis
Right to Counsel
In his first assignment of error, appellant argues that he
was denied his constitutional right to counsel when the trial
court denied appointed counsel's motions to withdraw as
counsel and appellant's requests for new counsel.
Pursuant to the Sixth Amendment of the United States
Constitution and Section 10, Article I of the Ohio
Constitution, a criminal defendant has the right to counsel.
State v. Milligan, 40 Ohio St.3d 341, 533 N.E.2d 724
(1988), paragraph one of the syllabus. A criminal defendant
does not, however, have the right to counsel with whom he has
a rapport or with whom he can develop a meaningful
lawyer-client relationship. State v. Henness, 79 Ohio St.3d
53, 65, 679 N.E.2d 686 (1997). "Under the federal and
state constitutions, the defendant is simply entitled to the
effective assistance of legal counsel." State v.
Hudson, 8th Dist. Cuyahoga No. 98967, 2013-Ohio-1992,
It is well established that an indigent defendant is not
entitled to the counsel of his choosing, but rather, only the
right to competent, effective representation. See [State
v. Murphy, 91 Ohio St.3d 516, 523, 747 N.E.2d 765
(2001)]. Further, the right to counsel does not guarantee the
defendant a meaningful relationship with counsel. See
Morris v. Slappy (1983), 461 U.S. 1, 13-14, 103 S.Ct.
1610, 75 L.Ed.2d 610; State v. Pruitt (1984), 18
Ohio App.3d 50, 57, 18 Ohio B. 163, 480 N.E.2d 499. In order
for a criminal defendant to discharge a court-appointed
attorney, the defendant must show a breakdown in the
attorney-client relationship of such magnitude as to
jeopardize the defendant's right to the effective
assistance of counsel. See State v. Coleman (1988),
37 Ohio St.3d 286, 525 N.E.2d 792, paragraph four of the
syllabus. Thus, an indigent defendant is entitled to new
counsel "only upon a showing of good cause, such as a
conflict of interest, a complete breakdown in communication,
or an irreconcilable conflict which leads to an apparently
unjust result." State v. Edsall (1996), 113
Ohio App.3d 337, 339, 680 N.E.2d 1256; see, also, State
v. Blankenship (1995), 102 Ohio App.3d 534, 558, 657
State v. Hawkins, 8th Dist. Cuyahoga No. 91930,
2009-Ohio-4368, ¶ 63.
This court reviews a trial court's decision on a motion
to withdraw as counsel for an abuse of discretion. State
v. Williams,99 Ohio St.3d 493, 2003-Ohio-4396, 794
N.E.2d 27, ¶ 135. Similarly, we review a trial
court's decision regarding a defendant's request for
substitute counsel for an abuse of ...