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State v. Norman

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Fifth District, Richland

August 12, 2019

STATE OF OHIO Plaintiff-Appellee
v.
HEZEKIAH NORMAN Defendant-Appellant

          Criminal Appeal from the Mansfield Municipal Court, Case No. 2017 TRC 12870

          For Plaintiff-Appellee MICHAEL J. KEMERER ASSISTANT LAW DIRECTOR

          For Defendant-Appellant JOHN C. O'DONNELL

          JUDGES: Hon. W. Scott Gwin, P .J. Hon. John W. Wise, J. Hon. Earle E. Wise, Jr., J.

          OPINION

          Wise, John, J.

         {¶1} Defendant-Appellant Hezekiah Norman appeals from his conviction, in the Mansfield Municipal Court, Richland County, for OMVI and failure to obey a traffic control sign. Appellee is the State of Ohio. The relevant procedural facts leading to this appeal are as follows.

         {¶2} On November 25, 2017, Trooper D.R. Passet of the Ohio State Highway Patrol was on patrol on Trimble Road in Mansfield, Ohio. The trooper observed a BMW automobile make a left turn onto Arbor Street from the right-side driving lane of Trimble Road without first moving into the middle turn lane. The trooper thereupon effectuated a stop of the BMW, which was being operated by appellant. Following further investigation, appellant was charged with OMVI (R.C. 4511.19(A)(1)(a)), DUI (R.C. 4511.19(A)(2)), and failure to obey a traffic control device or sign (R.C. 4511.12).[1] Appellant thereafter entered pleas of not guilty to all three charges.

         {¶3} On March 12, 2018, appellant filed a motion to suppress, arguing that Trooper Passet lacked probable cause and/or "specific and articulable facts" for the initial stop of the BMW.

         {¶4} The State filed a response on April 12, 2018. On the same day, a hearing on the motion to suppress was conducted by the trial court. Appellant and the State stipulated to the facts surrounding the traffic stop, including a stipulation that the "Center Lane Only" sign (with turning arrows) was of nonconforming height according to the Ohio Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices ("OMUTCD"). The parties also agreed to the submission of certain photographs of the area on Trimble Road where the trooper observed appellant, leading to the stop. Supp. Tr. at 3-6.

         {¶5} On April 24, 2018, the magistrate issued a decision denying the motion to suppress, finding in pertinent part it was proper for the trooper to stop appellant "for making a left turn from the far right lane, crossing over another lane which was specifically marked and made for such turns." Magistrate's Decision at 1.

         {¶6} On May 23, 2018, appellant filed an objection to the magistrate's decision pursuant to Crim.R. 19.

         {¶7} On August 10, 2018, the trial court issued a judgment entry denying the motion to suppress, concluding that even though the road signage was "not in compliance with Ohio law," the traffic stop in question was lawful because the "defendant turned from the right lane [and] passed [through] the turn only lane as marked on the pavement and onto a one lane road." Judgment Entry, August 10, 2018, at 1.

         {¶8} On December 13, 2018, appellant entered a plea of guilty to the counts of OMVI and failure to obey a traffic control device or sign. The DUI count was dismissed. Appellant was thereupon found guilty and sentenced to sixty days in jail for OMVI, with 57 days suspended. He was also ordered to pay court costs as to both counts.

         {¶9} Appellant filed a notice of appeal on December 28, 2018. He herein raises the ...


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