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City of Lorain v. Rubenstein

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Ninth District, Lorain

August 26, 2019

CITY OF LORAIN, OHIO Appellee
v.
ANITA RUBENSTEIN Appellant

          APPEAL FROM JUDGMENT ENTERED IN THE LORAIN MUNICIPAL COURT COUNTY OF LORAIN, OHIO CASE No. 2016CRB01260

          DENISE E. FERGUSON, Attorney at Law, for Appellant.

          ROCKY RADEFF and JEFFREY SZABO, Prosecuting Attorneys, for Appellee.

          DECISION AND JOURNAL ENTRY

          CARR, JUDGE.

         {¶1} Appellant, Anita Rubenstein, appeals the judgment of the Lorain Municipal Court. This Court reverses and remands.

         I.

         {¶2} This matter arises out of an incident that occurred at Lorain County Health and Dentistry on April 19, 2016. A customer service representative at the health center called 911 that day and reported that a disgruntled patient had slammed the glass window at the reception desk, causing the glass to shatter. The customer service representative identified Rubenstein as the individual who had shattered the glass.

         {¶3} Rubenstein was charged with one count of criminal damaging or endangering in violation of R.C. 2909.06(A)(1), a misdemeanor of the second degree. A warrant on the complaint was executed more than a year later. Rubenstein entered a plea of not guilty to the charge. After receiving appointed counsel, Rubenstein successfully moved for new appointed counsel. When that attorney subsequently withdrew, a third attorney was appointed to represent Rubenstein. Rubenstein filed a written motion to change her plea to not guilty by reason of insanity but that motion was ultimately withdrawn. On February 28, 2018, Rubenstein filed a written jury demand. Rubenstein ultimately elected to represent herself at trial with appointed counsel serving as standby counsel. The matter proceeded to a bench trial where Rubenstein was found guilty of the sole charge against her. The trial court ordered her to pay a $250 fine and court costs.

         {¶4} On appeal, Rubenstein raises one assignment of error.

         II.

         ASSIGNMENT OF ERROR

THE TRIAL COURT COMMITTED REVERSIBLE AND PLAIN ERROR WHEN IT HELD A BENCH TRIAL AFTER DEFENDANT HAD MADE A JURY DEMAND.

         {¶5} In her assignment of error, Rubenstein contends that the trial court committed reversible error when it conducted a bench trial after she filed a written demand for a jury trial. This Court agrees.

         {¶6} In support of her position that the trial court committed reversible error when it conducted a bench trial in this matter, Rubenstein emphasizes that she invoked her right to a jury trial and, further, that she then never filed a subsequent written waiver of her right to a jury trial under R.C. 2945.05. In response, the City contends that there was no harm in this case because the City and the trial judge agreed prior to the ...


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