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State v. W.C.

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Eighth District, Cuyahoga

March 29, 2018

STATE OF OHIO PLAINTIFF -APPELLEE
v.
W.C. DEFENDANT-APPELLANT

          Civil Appeal from the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas Case No. CR-15-594927-A

          ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLANTS Mark Stanton Cuyahoga County Public Defender By: Noelle A. Powell Cullen Sweeney Assistant Public Defenders.

          ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEES Michael C. O'Malley Cuyahoga County Prosecutor By: Diane Smilanick Assistant County Prosecutor.

          BEFORE: Keough, P.J., Blackmon, J., and Celebrezze, J.

          JOURNAL ENTRY AND OPINION

          KATHLEEN ANN KEOUGH, P.J.

         {¶1} Defendant-appellant, W.C., appeals from the trial court's decision denying his motion to seal his arrest record. Finding merit to the appeal, we reverse the trial court's decision and remand for further proceedings.

         {¶2} In 2015, W.C. was named in a ten-count indictment charging him with rape, kidnapping, and gross sexual imposition; sexual motivation specifications were attendant to the kidnapping charges. A jury subsequently found W.C. not guilty on all counts.

         {¶3} In February 2016, W.C. filed a motion pursuant to R.C. 2953.52 to seal court records following a not guilty verdict. The state opposed the motion contending that W.C.'s motion should be denied because of the nature of the offenses and his prior criminal history.

         {¶4} In July 2016, the trial court conducted a hearing on W.C.'s motion. W.C. requested that his arrest record be sealed because he has been unable to secure employment following his arrest on the charges, despite being honorably discharged from the military. W.C. explained that employers have denied him jobs, for which he is otherwise qualified and in areas he has previously worked, solely due to the instant case where he was acquitted of all charges. He further explained that without meaningful employment, he is unable to support himself and his family. The state again reiterated that it objected to sealing W.C.'s arrest record in this case because of the "nature of the charges" and his "extensive record of arrest and convictions."

         {¶5} The trial court reviewed W.C.'s arrest and conviction history, which consisted exclusively of nonviolent misdemeanors. The most serious misdemeanor conviction occurred in 2010 where he was convicted of having a drug of abuse, a misdemeanor of the first degree. The court also reviewed W.C.'s employment history prior to his arrest and his subsequent attempts to find employment.

         {¶6} In December 2016, the trial court issued a journal entry denying W.C.'s motion. The court stated:

After hearing arguments from the state and defense, hearing from the defendant and in consideration of the briefs filed in the instant matter and a review of the defendant's past criminal history, the legitimate needs of the government to maintain those records outweigh the defendant's interest in sealing his record.

         {¶7} W.C. now appeals, raising two assignments of error. Finding merit to his second assignment of error, it will be addressed first.

         {¶8} In his second assignment of error, W.C. contends that the trial court failed to articulate and create a record for this court to ...


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