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State v. Hale

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Eighth District, Cuyahoga

June 14, 2018

STATE OF OHIO PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE
v.
SAYE'QUEE L. HALE DEFENDANT-APPELLANT

          Criminal Appeal from the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas Case Nos. CR-16-608795-A, CR-16-610050-A, and CR-16-611319-A

          ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLANT Mark A. Stanton Cuyahoga County Public Defender

          ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEE Michael C. O'Malley Cuyahoga County Prosecutor By: Frank Romeo Zeleznikar Assistant County Prosecutor

          BEFORE: McCormack, P.J., E.T. Gallagher, J., and Laster Mays, J.

          JOURNAL ENTRY AND OPINION

          TIM McCORMACK, PRESIDING JUDGE

         {¶1} Defendant-appellant Saye'Quee Hale appeals his sentence following a guilty plea. Finding no merit to the appeal, we affirm.

         {¶2} Hale was indicted in three cases in the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas for numerous charges. On November 29, 2016, Hale pleaded guilty to participating in a criminal gang, receiving stolen property, burglary, two counts of robbery, aggravated robbery, two counts of grand theft, and attempted grand theft in Cuyahoga C.P. No. CR-16-608795; aggravated robbery in Cuyahoga C.P. No. CR-16-610050; and seven counts of aggravated robbery in Cuyahoga C.P. No. CR-16-611319. The remaining charges were nolled.

         {¶3} At the sentencing hearing, the trial court imposed a sentence of six years in prison. Thereafter, the court addressed Hale's eligibility for judicial release:

I am going to preclude Mr. Hale from participating in the judicial release program, which he would be eligible for after five years in prison not counting his jail time credit.
You have to spend five years in prison for - to be - in this circumstance to be eligible for * * * judicial release. But I'm not going to authorize judicial release in this situation even if Mr. Hale does what I expect him to do in prison, and that is to continue to better himself.

         And in the sentencing entry, the court stated, "No judicial release or early release program."

         {¶4} Hale now appeals from his sentence, assigning one error for our review: The trial court erred when it ordered that the defendant was not eligible for judicial release. Hale essentially argues that the court has effectively, and improperly, denied him an opportunity to seek judicial release. We disagree. We find that the issue of judicial release is premature and, therefore, this appeal is not ripe for review.

         {¶5} R.C. 2929.20, which governs judicial release, defines "eligible offender" as "any person who, on or after April 7, 2009, is serving a stated prison term that includes one or more nonmandatory prison terms." R.C. 2929.20(A)(1)(a). Upon motion by an eligible offender, the sentencing court "may reduce the eligible offender's aggregated nonmandatory prison term or terms through a judicial release under this section." R.C. 2929.20(B). The statute confers considerable discretion upon a trial court in deciding whether to grant or deny an offender's motion for judicial release. State v. Pollard, 8th Dist. Cuyahoga No. 97166, 2012-Ohio-1196, ¶ 18. And the statute provides specific time periods in which an eligible offender may seek judicial release:

If the aggregated nonmandatory prison term or terms is more than five years but not more than ten years, the eligible offender may file the motion not earlier than the date on which the eligible offender has served five years of the offender's stated prison term or, if the prison term includes a mandatory prison term or terms, not ...

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