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City of Cleveland v. Williams

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Eighth District, Cuyahoga

July 26, 2018

CITY OF CLEVELAND PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT
v.
RONNIE WILLIAMS DEFENDANT-APPELLEE

          Criminal Appeal from the Cleveland Municipal Court Case No. 2017 CRB 015467

          ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLANT Barbara A. Langhenry City of Cleveland Director of Law By: Omar Siddiq Jennifer M. Kinsley Assistant City Prosecutors The Justice Center

          ATTORNEY FOR APPELLEE James L. Hardiman 3615 Superior Avenue, Suite 3101-D Cleveland, Ohio 44114

          AMICI CURIAE Attorneys For State of Ohio Michael C. O'Malley Cuyahoga County Prosecutor BY: Daniel T. Van Assistant Prosecuting Attorney The Justice Center

          Attorney for NAACP Donald C. Williams Donald C. Williams & Associates, L.P.A. 55 Public Square, Suite 2100 Cleveland, Ohio 44113

          Attorneys For Cuyahoga County Public Defender Mark Stanton Cuyahoga County Public Defender By: John T. Martin

          Ashley E. Loyke Assistant Public Defenders Courthouse Square, Suite 200 310 Lakeside Avenue Cleveland, Ohio 44113

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

          JUDGMENT

          FRANK D.CELEBREZZE, JR, JUDGE

         {¶1} Plaintiff-appellant, the city of Cleveland ("city"), filed this discretionary appeal from a judgment of the Cleveland Municipal Court, for which leave was granted pursuant to R.C. 2945.67(A). The city sought to appeal the trial court's determination that Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority's ("RTA") fare enforcement policy is unconstitutional. After a thorough review of the record and law, this court dismisses the city's appeal.

         I. Factual and Procedural History

         {¶2} The instant appeal pertains to RTA's fare enforcement policy and the constitutionality thereof.

         {¶3} On July 13, 2017, RTA police officer Michael Lewis boarded an RTA coach bus and conducted an inspection of the fare cards of the passengers that were on board. At the time that Officer Lewis boarded the bus, defendant-appellee, Ronnie Williams, had already boarded the bus and was seated with the other passengers. When Officer Lewis approached Williams, Williams indicated that he did not have a fare card. Officer Lewis ultimately requested that Williams step off the bus and issued him a citation for fare evasion, a fourth-degree misdemeanor in violation of Cleveland Codified Ordinances 605.11(a), misconduct involving a public transportation system. Williams was arraigned on July 27, 2017. He pled not guilty to the misconduct charge.

         {¶4} Williams elected to act pro se for purposes of trial. A bench trial commenced on August 9, 2017. At the close of the bench trial, the trial court opined that the absence of a fare card was insufficient proof of evasion of fare. The trial court indicated that it would take the matter under advisement, and encouraged the parties to brief the issue. Furthermore, the trial ...


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