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In re P.K.

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Fifth District, Guernsey

June 10, 2019


          Appeal from the Guernsey County Court of Common Pleas, Juvenile Division, Case No. 18JA00437

          For Plaintiff-Appellant JAMES R. SKELTON MELISSA R. BRIGHT Assistant Guernsey County Prosecuting Attorneys

          For Defendant-Appellee P.K. STEPHANIE L. CHURCH Tribbie, Plummer, Church & LaPlante, LLC

          JUDGES: Hon. John W. Wise, P.J. Hon. Craig R. Baldwin, J. Hon. Earle E. Wise, J.


          Baldwin, J.

         {¶1} Appellant State of Ohio appeals from the March 4, 2019 Journal Entry of the Guernsey County Court of Common Pleas, Juvenile Division.


         {¶2} On November 5, 2018, a complaint was filed alleging that P.K. was a delinquent child. The complaint alleged that P.K. had walked away from law enforcement officers three times after being asked to come towards the officers, had pulled her hands from the arresting officers, and had pulled her left hand free from handcuffs and that the offense, if committed by an adult, would constitute a violation of R.C. 2921.31, obstructing official business, a misdemeanor of the second degree. P.K. had run away from her grandmother's home and refused to return home. At the arraignment on December 10, 2018, a technical denial was entered by the trial court on behalf of P.K.

         {¶3} On December 21, 2018, appellee's counsel filed a Juv.R. 24 discovery request. Appellant, acting through the Guernsey County Prosecutor's Office, filed a response to the request on January 4, 2019. The response included a 4 page report from the Cambridge Police Department and the names of the two officers involved in the case. No officer body camera recordings were provided.

         {¶4} As memorialized in a letter dated January 17, 2019 from an Assistant Prosecuting Attorney to appellee's counsel, appellee's counsel was advised that there were no video recordings available for the incident involving P.K. Attached to the letter was a copy of a text conversation between the Prosecuting Attorney's Secretary and Sergeant Gebhart of the Cambridge Police Department stating that there was no video.

          {¶5} The trial court, as memorialized in a Journal Entry filed on January 22, 2019, ordered that all discovery was to be completed within fourteen (14) days. On January 31, 2019, appellee P.K. filed a discovery compliance pursuant to Juv.R. 24 indicating that the two recordings might be used at the trial in the matter.

         {¶6} On February 11, 2019, appellee's counsel filed a Motion to Dismiss or, in the Alternative, Motion for Sanctions. Appellee's counsel, in such motion, stated that she had obtained the video recordings on or about January 30, 2019 pursuant to a public records request to the Cambridge Police Department. Counsel argued that appellant's failure to provide the recordings constituted a violation of the requirements of in Brady v. Maryland, 373 U.S. 83, 83 S.Ct. 1194, 10 L.Ed.2d 215 (1963) and asked that the matter be dismissed or other appropriate sanctions imposed. Appellant filed a memorandum, in opposition to appellees' motion on February 22, 2019 arguing that no Brady violation had occurred because the recordings were not exculpatory and no prejudice had occurred. Appellee's counsel filed a reply on February 28, 2019.

         {¶7} Pursuant to a Journal Entry filed on March 4, 2019, the trial court denied the Motion to Dismiss, but granted the alternative Motion for Sanctions and ordered the Guernsey County Prosecutor's Office to pay the attorney fees of appellee's attorney for the time required to discover the body camera video and the time spent preparing the filing the Motion to Dismiss and reply. The trial court, in its Journal Entry, found that the evidence had been suppressed by the State of Ohio, but that there had been no suggestion that the evidence was willfully suppressed. The trial court stated, in relevant part, as follows: "However, it does appear that a halfhearted effort was made to discover evidence. It is well known that the Cambridge Police Department Officers have body cameras on their person. It is also well known that they are to have cameras on when an incident, stop, or investigation is taking place." The trial court further found that P.K. was not prejudiced because the videos were discovered by defense counsel fourteen days prior to trial and that, therefore, P.K. was not denied due process. The trial court, in its Journal Entry, further stated, in relevant part, as follows:

However, having found that the alleged delinquent was not prejudiced does not excuse the State of Ohio's lack of effort in this matter. Defense Counsel is an experienced lawyer and former prosecutor. She is aware of the policies of the various law enforcement agencies in this County and knows who to call to find information. A less experienced attorney may not know that information and could result in ...

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