Court of Appeals of Ohio, Eighth District, Cuyahoga
Appeal from the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas Case
ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT Maurice J. Sinkfield, pro se Inmate
No. 633111 Lake Erie Correctional Institution
ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEE Michael C. O'Malley Cuyahoga
County Prosecutor Anthony Thomas Miranda Assistant County
BEFORE: Stewart, P.J., S. Gallagher, J., and Laster Mays, J.
JOURNAL ENTRY AND OPINION
J. STEWART, P. J.
The court granted defendant-appellant Maurice Sinkfield
judicial release from his conviction for robbery on terms
that required him to abide by the rules and regulations of
the probation department. Eight months later, Sinkfield
failed to report to his probation officer. Sinkfield did not
deny that he failed to report, but claimed that he did not
report because an incident with city of Euclid police
officers caused him to believe that he would suffer imminent
physical harm from the police. The court rejected
Sinkfield's argument, found him in violation of his
probation, and reinstated the original prison sentence. The
sole assignment of error contests this ruling.
"The court, in its discretion, may revoke the judicial
release if the offender violates the community control
sanction described in division (R)(1) of this section."
R.C. 2929.20(R)(2). Revocation of judicial release is not a
criminal proceeding, so the state need only provide
"substantial proof that the defendant has violated the
terms of community control imposed as a condition of judicial
release. State v. Kocak, 7th Dist. Mahoning No. 15
MA 0173, 2017-Ohio-945, ¶ 9. We review the court's
decision to revoke judicial release for abuse of discretion.
State v. Thompson, 3d Dist. Crawford Nos. 3-16-01
and 3-16-12, 2016-Ohio-8401, ¶ 11.
Sinkfield maintains that the court was aware of the treatment
he allegedly received from the Euclid police "but did
nothing to get to the bottom of the situation so that the
defendant could report to [his probation officer] and not
fear being killed by white police officers who threatend
[sic] and attempted to kill or inflict bodily harm on the
defendant." He argues that his failure to report was
justified under Article I, Section 1 of the Ohio Constitution
which guarantees his inalienable right to "seeking and
obtaining happiness and safety."
The language "seeking and obtaining happiness and
safety" expresses natural law rights that, "in and
of themselves, are of no legal force." State v.
Williams, 88 Ohio St.3d 513, 523, 2000-Ohio-428, 728
N.E.2d 342. The inalienable right to happiness and safety
outlined in Article I, Section 1 of the Ohio Constitution is
not self-executing; it is enforced by "other provisions
of the Ohio Constitution, laws passed by the General
Assembly, and in the mandates of the United States
Constitution." Id. at 524. Importantly,
the inalienable rights given to the citizens of this state in
Article I of the Ohio Constitution, and the equal protection
and benefit guaranteed them in that document as well as in
the federal Constitution, do not render the citizens immune
from the operation of the police power.
Holsman v. Thomas, 112 Ohio St. 397, 404, 147 N.E.
750 (1925). "Pursuant to its police powers, the General
Assembly has the authority to enact laws defining criminal
conduct and to prescribe its punishment." Ohio v.
Thompkins, 75 Ohio St.3d 558, 560, 1996-Ohio-264, 664
N.E.2d 926. Sinkfield's right to "safety" is
thus guaranteed by criminal statutes that forbid assault and
by civil statutes that give him a right of redress for
misconduct by government agents.
By failing to invoke these statutes and instead choosing not
to report to his probation officer, Sinkfield admittedly
violated the terms of community control imposed as a
condition of judicial release. And as the court noted on the
record, even if Sinkfield had been threatened by the Euclid
police as claimed, he could still report to his probation
officer, who was located "nowhere near Euclid." Tr.
54. Because Sinkfield had available to him means of reporting
to his probation officer that did not require him to expose
himself to the allegedly abusive Euclid police, the court did
not abuse its discretion by revoking judicial release.
Sinkfield's sole assignment of error is overruled.