Court of Appeals of Ohio, Second District, Montgomery
Criminal Appeal from Common Pleas Court Trial Court Case No.
MATHIAS H. HECK, JR., by ALICE B. PETERS, Atty. Reg. No.
0093945, Attorney for Plaintiff-Appellee.
TAYLOR, #685345, Defendant-Appellant, Pro Se
1} Darren Taylor, pro se, appeals from the denial of
his "motion to vacate and/or suspend court cost, "
which addressed the total assessed by the clerk of courts.
For the following reasons, the trial court's denial of
Taylor's motion to vacate and/or suspend court costs will
be affirmed as to restitution and reversed as to court costs,
and the matter will be remanded for consideration of
Taylor's indigency and his present and/or future ability
to pay court costs.
2} In May 2013, Taylor was found guilty after a jury
trial in the Montgomery County Court of Common Pleas of four
counts of murder (relating to two victims) and one count each
of aggravated robbery and felonious assault; each count
included a firearm specification. The trial court found
Taylor guilty of having weapons while under disability after
a bench trial. After merging several offenses and firearm
specifications, Taylor was sentenced to two terms of 15 years
to life in prison for two murder charges, to be served
consecutively, and to an additional 3 years for each of the
firearm specifications associated with those two murder
counts. Taylor's aggregate prison term was 36 years to
life in prison.
3} In addition to the prison term, the trial court
ordered Taylor to pay $6, 575.49 in restitution, $192 dollars
to the Montgomery County Prosecutor's Office for
extradition costs, and court costs, as determined by the
Montgomery County Clerk of Courts. The court ordered that
$168.60 found on Taylor's person at the time of his
arrest be forfeited and applied to Taylor's restitution
and/or court costs. No fine was imposed.
4} Taylor appealed from his conviction, claiming
that the trial court erred in failing to suppress evidence
obtained from warrantless searches of his cell phones,
including the GPS data obtained thereby. We affirmed
Taylor's conviction. State v. Taylor, 2d Dist.
Montgomery No. 25764, 2014-Ohio-2550.
5} On August 12, 2016, Taylor filed a motion to
vacate and/or suspend court costs. Taylor stated that the
Montgomery County Clerk of Courts had assessed a total of $8,
970.55 against his institutional accounts. He informed the
court that he receives $19 per month in prison earnings,
which is spent on electricity ($1 deducted monthly from his
account), hygiene products, postage, stationery, and legal
copies. Taylor stated that, given his lengthy sentence, there
were "no realistic expectations of increasing his income
until his release" and that he has no cash, bonds,
savings, or property that can be levied toward his financial
obligation. Taylor supported his motion with an affidavit
stating that he had been incarcerated since 2011, that he
receives $19 per month, that he must pay for utility charges
and medical expenses from those funds, that all monies
received from outside sources are gifts for the payment of
personal items, and that he is "without sufficient funds
to pay the required costs and fees of this action."
6} On August 19, 2016, the trial court overruled
Taylor's motion. The trial court's decision stated,
in its entirety:
It is well-settled that costs may be assessed against all
criminal defendants, including those who are indigent.
State v. Threatt, 108 Ohio St.3d 277, 279, 282
(2006). Upon review, the Court notes that Defendant made the
choices which led to the accrual of the fees at issue, and he
must take responsibility for his conduct, as well as the
resulting consequences. Moreover, there is no evidence that
Defendant is unable to make any payment toward the costs at
this time, or that he will not be able to make payments
toward the fees once his term of incarceration ends.
Therefore, the Court finds that it is not necessary to vacate
and/or suspend Defendant's costs in this matter, and
OVERRULES Defendant's Motion to Vacate and/or Suspend
7} Taylor sought reconsideration of the trial
court's ruling. On March 16, 2017, the trial court denied
the motion for reconsideration. The trial court stated:
"Here, the Defendant is asking the Court to reconsider
its previous decision on this exact issue. The Defendant has
neither demonstrated a manifest injustice nor any additional
evidence to overrule the Court's original decision. The
Court stands by that decision and finds that the Defendant
was properly sentenced to pay Court Costs. Therefore, the
doctrine of res judicata stands and the previous
decision on the Defendant's prior motion is
8} Taylor appealed from the trial court's denial
of his motion for reconsideration. The State sought to
dismiss the appeal, arguing that a decision on a motion for
reconsideration is a nullity and that Taylor had failed to
timely appeal from the August 19, 2016 decision. In response,
Taylor requested that we allow him to pursue a delayed appeal
from the August 19, 2016 decision. We granted Taylor's
motion for a delayed appeal, indicating that we would
construe the appeal as arising from both ...