Court of Appeals of Ohio, Eighth District, Cuyahoga
Criminal Appeal from the East Cleveland Municipal Court Case
No. 18 TRC 01592
M. Hemmons, East Cleveland Law Director, and Heather
McCollough, Assistant Law Director, for appellee.
Stanton, Cuyahoga County Public Defender, and Robert
Blanshard McCaleb, Assistant Public Defender, for appellant.
JOURNAL ENTRY AND OPINION
T. GALLAGHER, PRESIDING JUDGE
1} Defendant-appellant, Anita Harris, appeals her
convictions and claims the following error:
trial court erred in rendering a guilty verdict without
requesting or receiving a factual basis for conviction.
2} We find merit to the appeal and reverse the trial
Facts and Procedural History
3} Harris was charged in the East Cleveland
Municipal Court with one count of driving while under the
influence of alcohol ("DUI") in violation of East
Cleveland Ordinances ("E.C.O.") 333.01(A)(1), one
count of driving without a seatbelt in violation of E.C.O.
337.27, and one count of failing to drive in one lane in
violation of E.C.O. 331.08. Harris pleaded no contest to the
DUI and seatbelt charges, and the government nolled the
remaining charge. The court accepted her no contest pleas and
found her guilty on both counts. The court then sentenced her
to 180 days in jail, suspended 177 days of the jail term, and
gave Harris the opportunity to complete a three-day driving
course in lieu of serving three days in jail. The court also
sentenced Harris to 12 months of probation, imposed $430 in
fines, and ordered her to pay court costs.
4} After receiving her sentence, Harris asked the
court if she could make a statement regarding her case. With
the court's permission, Harris informed the court that on
the day of her arrest, she only had one drink and refused the
breathalyzer test because the "drink was still fresh on
[her] breath." (Tr. 9.) The court advised Harris that
Ohio law penalizes people who refuse the breathalyzer.
Thereafter, the proceedings were concluded. Harris now
appeals her convictions.
Law and Analysis
5} In her sole assignment of error, Harris argues
the trial court committed reversible error when it rendered
guilty verdicts without any factual basis for the
6} R.C. 2937.07 governs the court's action when
taking guilty or no contest pleas in misdemeanor cases and
states, in relevant part:
A plea to a misdemeanor offense of "no contest" or
words of similar import shall constitute an admission of the
truth of the facts alleged in the complaint and that the
judge or magistrate may make a finding of guilty or not
guilty from the explanation of the circumstances of the
offense. If the offense to which the accused is entering a
plea of "no contest" is a minor misdemeanor, the
judge or magistrate is not required to call for an
explanation of the circumstances of ...