Court of Appeals of Ohio, Eleventh District, Portage
Criminal Appeal from the Portage County Court of Common
Pleas, Case No. 2009 CR 0498.
Reversed and remanded.
V. Vigluicci, Portage County Prosecutor, and Pamela J.
Holder, Assistant Prosecutor, For Plaintiff-Appellee.
Michael A. Partlow, For Defendant-Appellant.
CYNTHIA WESTCOTT RICE, J.
Appellant, Danny J. Lantz, appeals from the judgment of the
Portage County Court of Common Pleas, concluding it possessed
continuing jurisdiction, pursuant to R.C. 2945.401 (J)(1)(b),
to keep appellant committed to a mental health institution
after he was found not guilty by reason of insanity in 2009
on two counts of felonious assault. We reverse and remand the
In August 2009, the Portage County Grand Jury indicted
appellant on two counts of felonious assault, second-degree
felonies under R.C. 2903.11(A)(2). Almost immediately after
appellant's arraignment, his counsel moved the trial
court to order an evaluation of his sanity at the time the
two offenses allegedly took place. Following the completion
of the first psychological evaluation, the trial court
conducted a hearing and found that appellant was competent to
stand trial. Nevertheless, the court still ordered that a
second evaluation be performed. Furthermore, appellant's
counsel filed a written plea of not guilty by reason of
Prior to the scheduled date for his trial in late December
2009, appellant executed a written waiver of his
constitutional right to a jury trial. At the beginning of the
ensuing bench trial, the state and appellant submitted into
evidence certain stipulations of fact and a copy of a
psychological report. Upon approving the stipulations and
fully reviewing the report, the trial court found appellant
not guilty by reason of insanity ("NGRI") as to
both counts of the indictment. In so concluding, the court
by clear and convincing evidence that the defendant is
subject to hospitalization and, therefore, based on the
recommendation of the psychologist the defendant shall be
committed for the maximum sentence allowable or until
restored to sanity to Heartland Behavioral Healthcare Center,
the least restrictive setting consistent with the
defendant's treatment needs and community safety. The
court shall retain jurisdiction of this matter.
Pursuant to statute, continued commitment hearings and status
hearings were held over the years. The last mandatory
two-year review hearing occurred on September 6, 2016. The
parties stipulated to the report from Northcoast Behavioral
Healthcare ("NBH") and the trial court found
appellant was "mentally ill, subject to hospitalization
and NBH [was] the least restrictive and appropriate
On December 6, 2017, appellant's counsel moved the trial
court to enter a nunc pro tunc judgment to change the
original judgment committing appellant to the mental health
institution. The motion sought to change the court's
original order to commit appellant "for the maximum
sentence allowable or until restored to sanity * * *" to
commit appellant "for the maximum prison term for the
most serious offense, a term of eight years." Counsel
argued the original statement of commitment improperly
enlarged the time-frame over which the court could exercise
jurisdiction, for up to 16 years, in violation of R.C.
The matter proceeded to hearing on January 12, 2018.
Appellant's counsel argued that, pursuant to R.C.
2945.401(J)(1)(b), the maximum permissible time over which
the trial court could exercise jurisdiction over appellant
was eight years, the maximum penalty for the most serious
offense in appellant's case, a felony-two felonious
assault. The state argued that, because appellant was charged
with two counts of felonious assault on separate victims, and
both were equally serious, the trial court could exercise
jurisdiction over appellant for sixteen years, the maximum
penalty for the charges if they were run consecutively.
The state also called Dr. Ellen Hott, the attending
psychiatrist at the institution where appellant resides.
Appellant was diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder,
bipolar type, and had a history of substance use disorder
that was in institutional remission. Dr. Hott testified
appellant's treatment plan was to continue his
antipsychotic and mood stabilizing medications that were
currently given in long acting injectable form. Dr.
Hott's recommendation was that appellant continue the
treatment plan under hospital supervision. Dr. Hott testified
that appellant has directly advised her that he wishes to
discontinue antipsychotic medication and plans to do so upon
his discharge. She further testified, however, that if
appellant discontinued his medication, there was a strong
possibility, in light of his diagnoses, he would become
After the hearing, the trial court determined it had
continuing jurisdiction over appellant for up to 16 years
after he was found NGRI. The trial court granted the