Court of Appeals of Ohio, Second District, Montgomery
Criminal Appeal from Municipal Court No. 2019-CRB-26.
C. THOMAS, Atty. Reg. No. 0078255, Attorney for
L. FRITZ, Defendant-Appellant, Pro Se
1} Dexter Fritz appeals, pro se, from a judgment
finding him guilty of possession of a controlled substance,
marijuana, in an amount less than 100 grams. Following a
bench trial and the finding of guilt, the trial court fined
Fritz $10. According to Fritz, the trial court erred in
failing to believe the testimony of a witness, who allegedly
said that the marijuana belonged to him and that he had
accidently left it in Fritz's truck.
2} For the reasons that follow, we find the appeal
without merit, and will affirm the judgment of the trial
Facts and Course of Proceedings
3} According to the docket, a criminal complaint was
filed in the Kettering Municipal Court on January 2, 2019,
alleging that on December 28, 2018, Fritz unlawfully
possessed a controlled substance, marijuana, in an amount
less than 100 grams, in violation of R.C. 2925.11. According
to the police officer's statement accompanying the
citation, a search was conducted after the officer detected a
strong odor of raw marijuana emanating from the vehicle. The
search disclosed a folder containing suspected marijuana in
the center console, and Fritz admitted that the marijuana
belonged to him.
4} Fritz pled not guilty to the charge, and the
court then conducted a minor misdemeanor bench trial on
January 29, 2019. After finding Fritz guilty, the trial court
imposed a $10 fine, and this timely pro se appeal followed.
5} Fritz's appellate brief, which consists of
slightly over three hand-written pages, does not comply with
App.R. 16(A) in most respects. Among other things, Fritz
failed to comply with App.R. 16(A)(3), which requires
"[a] statement of the assignments of error presented for
review, with reference to the place in the record where each
error is reflected." In addition, Fritz failed to comply
with App.R. 16(A)(7), which mandates "[a]n argument
containing the contentions of the appellant with respect to
each assignment of error presented for review and the reasons
in support of the contentions, with citations to the
authorities, statutes, and parts of the record on which
6} Pro se litigants are held to the same procedures
and standards as parties who obtain counsel, and we may
disregard briefs that fail to comply with App.R. 16(A).
See App.R. 12(A) and Holfinger v.
Stonespring/Carespring, LLC, 2d Dist. Montgomery No.
27091, 2016-Ohio-7982, ¶ 27-31. However, in the
interests of justice, we will briefly consider Fritz's
brief, rather than striking the brief or summarily dismissing
the appeal. State v. Bolton, 2017-Ohio-8903, 100
N.E.3d 1275, ¶ 13 (2d Dist.).
7} From reading Fritz's brief, he appears to
claim that the trial court erred in failing to credit the
testimony of his witness, who accepted responsibility for the
marijuana, and indicated he had accidently left it in
Fritz's truck. Fritz also appears to contend that the
trial court ignored the witness's testimony because the
witness was African-American and did not wear a suit and tie
8} We cannot address these issues because Fritz
failed to file a transcript of the bench trial as required by
App.R. 9(B). "The duty to provide a transcript for
appellate review falls upon the appellant. This is
necessarily so because an appellant bears the burden of
showing error by reference to matters in the record."
Knapp v. Edwards Laboratories,61 Ohio St.2d 197,
199, 400 N.E.2d 384 (1980). "When portions of the
transcript necessary for resolution of assigned errors are
omitted from the record, the reviewing court has nothing to
pass upon and thus, as to those assigned errors, the court
has no choice but to ...