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State v. Grayer

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Eighth District, Cuyahoga

August 29, 2019

STATE OF OHIO, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
CORNELL RUSSELL GRAYER, Defendant-Appellant.

          Criminal Appeal from the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas No. CR-18-627031-A

         JUDGMENT: AFFIRMED

          Michael C. O'Malley, Cuyahoga County Prosecuting Attorney, and Brandon A. Piteo, Assistant Prosecuting Attorney, for appellee.

          Mark A Stanton, Cuyahoga County Public Defender, and David M. King, Assistant Public Defender, for appellant

          JOURNAL ENTRY AND OPINION

          RAYMOND C. HEADEN, JUDGE

         {¶ 1} Appellant Cornell Grayer ("Grayer") appeals from the trial court's judgment, entered after guilty pleas, sentencing him to five years incarceration. Grayer contends his pleas were not knowingly, voluntarily, or intelligently made, in violation of Crim.R. 11. For the reasons that follow, we affirm.

         {¶ 2} In March 2018, Grayer was named in a six-count indictment for charges stemming from two robberies that occurred on February 23, 2018, and March 9, 2018. Grayer pleaded not guilty to the indictment on March 28, 2018.

         {¶ 3} On July 9, 2018, Grayer withdrew his previously entered not guilty plea, and he pleaded guilty as follows: (1) amended Count 1 - robbery, in violation of R.C. 2911.02(A)(2), with forfeiture specifications pursuant to R.C. 2941.1417, and (2) amended Count 4 - aggravated robbery, in violation of R.C. 2911.01(A)(1), with a one-year firearm specification pursuant to RC. 2941.141 and forfeiture specifications pursuant to R.C. 2941.1417. In exchange for his guilty pleas, the state agreed to remove the firearm specifications on Count 1, the three-year firearm specification on Count 4, and to dismiss Counts 2, 3, 5, and 6. The court accepted Grayer's plea and found him guilty. The court ordered a presentence investigation report; drug, alcohol, and mental health assessments; and scheduled a sentencing hearing.

         {¶4} During the sentencing hearing, the court imposed a five-year sentence - four years on Count 1, robbery, to be served concurrently with a four-year sentence on Count 4, aggravated robbery, in addition to Count 4's one-year firearm specification to be served prior to and consecutive to the four-year base sentence under Count 4.

         {¶ 5} Grayer now appeals, raising two assignments of error for our review:

I. The trial court erred when it did not determine that the defendant understood the nature of the offenses, the effects of the plea, and that he was waiving certain constitutionally guaranteed trial rights by pleading guilty in violation of the Fifth, Sixth, and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution and Article I Section 10 of the Ohio Constitution and Ohio Crim.R. 11.
II. Defendant Cornell Grayer was denied effective assistance of counsel in violation of the Sixth and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution and Article I, Section 10 of the Ohio Constitution.

         {¶ 6} The purpose of Crim.R. 11(C) is to provide the defendant with relevant information so that he can make a voluntary and intelligent decision whether to plead guilty. State v. Ballard, 66 Ohio St.2d 473, 480, 423 N.E.2d 115 (1981). Before accepting a guilty plea in a felony case, a court must comply with Crim.R. 11(C) and "conduct an oral dialogue with the defendant to determine that the plea is voluntary and the defendant understands the nature of the charges and the maximum penalty involved, and to personally inform the defendant of the constitutional guarantees he is waiving by entering a guilty plea." State v. Martin, 8th Dist. Cuyahoga Nos. 92600 and 92601, 2010-Ohio-244, ¶ 5.

         {¶ 7} A trial court must strictly comply with the Crim.R. 11(C)(2)(c) requirements that relate to the waiver of constitutional rights. State v. Veney, 120 Ohio St.3d 176, 2008-Ohio-5200, 897 N.E.2d 621, ¶ 18. With respect to the nonconstitutional requirements of Crim.R. 11, set forth in Crim.R. 11(C)(2)(a) and (b), reviewing courts consider whether there was substantial compliance with the rule. State v. Hill, 8th Dist. Cuyahoga No. 106542, 2018-Ohio-4327, ¶ 8. "'Substantial compliance means that under the totality of the circumstances the defendant subjectively understands the implications of his plea and the rights he is waiving.'" Id., quoting State v. Nero, 56 Ohio St.3d 106, 108, 564 N.E.2d 474 (1990); State v. Stewart, 51 Ohio St.2d 86, 364 N.E.2d 1163 (1977). Additionally, before a plea will be vacated due to a violation of the defendant's nonconstitutional rights, the defendant must show prejudice. Martin at ¶ 7. "The test for prejudice is whether the plea would have otherwise been made." Id., citing Nero at 108.

         {¶ 8} "The standard for reviewing whether the trial court accepted a plea in compliance with Crim.R. 11(C) is a de novo standard of review." State v. Cardwell, 8th Dist. Cuyahoga No. 92796, 2009-Ohio-6827, ¶ 26, citing Stewart. "'It requires an appellate court to review the totality of the circumstances and determine whether the plea hearing was in compliance with Crim.R. 11(C).'" State v. Hudson-Bey, 8th Dist. Cuyahoga No. 104245, 2016-Ohio-7722, ¶ 7, quoting Cardwell at ¶ 26, citing Stewart.

         {¶ 9} In his first assignment of error, Grayer contends his pleas were not made knowingly, voluntarily, and intelligently because prior to accepting his pleas, (1) the trial court did not ask Grayer whether he understood the constitutional rights he was being asked to waive, (2) the trial court did not ask whether Grayer waived each individual constitutional right, but enumerated all of the applicable constitutional protections and then asked whether the ...


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