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State v. Russell

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Second District, Montgomery

August 23, 2019

STATE OF OHIO Plaintiff-Appellee
v.
JIM M. RUSSELL Defendant-Appellant

          Criminal Appeal from Municipal Court Trial Court Case No. TRD 1803232

          CHRISTOPHER B. EPLEY, Atty. Reg. No. 0070981, Attorney for Plaintiff-Appellee

          JIM M. RUSSELL, Defendant-Appellant, Pro Se

          OPINION

          HALL, J.

         {¶ 1} Jim M. Russell appeals pro se from the municipal court's judgment finding that he violated a municipal traffic ordinance. We affirm.

         I. Facts and Procedural History

         {¶ 2} On April 12, 2018, Russell was driving in the City of Vandalia and was involved in a traffic accident. A Vandalia police officer responded and found minor damage to the vehicle, which did not meet the threshold for a formal traffic accident report. Russell admitted to the officer that he did not have an Ohio driver's license, and the officer charged Russell with a violation of Vandalia Ordinance 436.01, operating a motor vehicle without an operator's license, an unclassified misdemeanor.

         {¶ 3} Russell was arraigned on April 23 before a Vandalia Municipal Court magistrate and pleaded not guilty. He filed a motion to dismiss the charge for lack of jurisdiction, which the magistrate overruled. A trial was held before the magistrate the following month. Before the trial started, Russell orally renewed his motion to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction, which the magistrate again overruled. The only witness was the police officer who charged Russell. Russell did not testify and did not cross-examine the officer. The magistrate found Russell guilty and fined him $1, 000 with $950 suspended, plus court costs.

         {¶ 4} Russell filed objections to the magistrate's decision. He then filed a motion to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction with the municipal court judge. On September 5, the court overruled both the objections and the motion to dismiss, adopted the magistrate's decision, and entered a final judgment. A couple of weeks later, Russell filed a motion to "arrest" the court's judgment and dismiss the complaint for lack of jurisdiction. The court overruled the motion.

         {¶ 5} Russell appeals.

         II. Analysis

         {¶ 6} Russell assigns three errors to the September 5 judgment. In the first two, he contends that the municipal court lacked jurisdiction. In the third assignment of error, Russell contends that his arraignment was invalid.

         A. The jurisdiction of the municipal court

         {¶ 7} The first and second assignments of error ...


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