Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Beavers v. State

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Second District, Montgomery

September 6, 2019

REUBIN J. BEAVERS Plaintiff-Appellee
v.
STATE OF OHIO Defendant-Appellant

          Civil Appeal from Common Pleas Court Trial Court Case No. 2015-CV-2627

          BRADLEY D. ANDERSON, Atty. Reg. No. 0061325 and KEVIN M. DARNELL, Atty. Reg. No. 0095952, Attorneys for Plaintiff-Appellee

          KATHERINE BOCKBRADER, Atty. Reg. No. 0066472, TIFFANY L. CARWILE, Atty. Reg. No. 0082522, and JUSTIN T. RADIC, Atty. Reg. No. 0082697 Attorneys for Defendant-Appellant

          OPINION

          TUCKER, J.

         {¶ 1} The State of Ohio appeals from a trial court decision declaring Reubin Beavers a "wrongfully imprisoned individual" under R.C. 2743.48. The state argues that Beavers does not satisfy the statutory definition of "wrongly imprisoned individual" in R.C. 2743.48(A). We agree that Beavers does not satisfy the fourth statutory condition because criminal proceedings against him are still legally permissible. Therefore, we reverse.

         I. The criminal case against Beavers

         {¶ 2} Beavers's underlying criminal case has a long history. It began with Beavers's conviction in 1995 and ended in 2013 with the dismissal, without prejudice, of the charges against him. In between, the case, as outlined below, came before this Court no less than seven times.

         {¶ 3} In 1995, a jury convicted Beavers of one count of felonious assault and two counts of shooting at or into a habitation, specifically, an illicit gambling club operating in a house. Beavers appealed, challenging the sufficiency of the evidence, and we affirmed in State v. Beavers, 2d Dist. Montgomery No. 15265, 2000 WL 84557 (Jan. 28, 2000) (Beavers I).

         {¶ 4} In 1996, Beavers filed his first petition for post-conviction relief, in which he argued, in part, that his trial counsel was ineffective for failing to call Raney Mease to testify at trial. Mease claimed he had met Beavers in prison after the latter's conviction, after overhearing Beavers describe the case to another inmate. Mease said that he was outside the gambling club during the shooting and saw the shooter and that it was not Beavers. The trial court denied the petition without a hearing, but this court reversed in State v. Beavers, 2d Dist. Montgomery No. 16362 1997 WL 797729 (Dec. 31, 1997) (Beavers II). That panel of the court concluded that the trial court should have held an evidentiary hearing to consider Mease's testimony. The trial court held a hearing on remand and again denied Beavers's postconviction-relief petition. That denial was affirmed in State v. Beavers, 2d Dist. Montgomery No. 17949, 2000 WL 426164 (Apr. 21, 2000) (Beavers III).[1]

         {¶ 5} In 2000, Beavers filed a motion for a new trial based on newly discovered evidence. The parties stipulated that a hearing was unnecessary. It was not until 2005 that the trial court denied the motion. Although the parties had stipulated the case would be submitted to the trial court on written and documentary submissions, this court reversed and remanded the case for a hearing in State v. Beavers, 166 Ohio App.3d 605, 2006-Ohio-1128, 852 N.E.2d 754 (2d Dist.) (Beavers V), concluding that a hearing was "necessary to resolve the issues," Beavers V at ¶ 22. The trial court held a hearing on remand and again denied the motion for a new trial. This court reversed and remanded in State v. Beavers, 2d Dist. Montgomery No. 22588, 2009-Ohio-5604 (Beavers VI). That panel concluded that if a jury were to hear Mease's testimony, along with all the other evidence, there was a "strong probability that the jury would have reasonable doubt, and acquit." Beavers VI at ¶ 37.

         {¶ 6} The state filed an application for reconsideration of our judgment in Beavers VI, arguing that it had its own newly discovered evidence, contradicting Mease's testimony, discovered after the trial court's hearing on the new-trial motion. The state asked that this court remand for a new hearing on the new-trial motion so that the state could present its additional evidence. The state's application was denied because the state was relying on evidence outside the record. But it was noted that on remand, because the trial court had not specifically been directed to order a new trial, it was within the court's discretion to hear new evidence on the motion. The trial court decided to hold another hearing; then, finding that Mease lacked credibility, the court denied the motion for a new trial. This court then reversed and remanded in State v. Beavers, 2d Dist. Montgomery No. 24671, 2012-Ohio-3711 (Beavers VII). This time we directed the trial court to order a new trial, saying that credibility was primarily for a jury to decide.

         {¶ 7} On September 16, 2013, the trial court, at the request of the state, entered an order dismissing the charges against Beavers without prejudice. Well before Beavers VI or the new trial ordered in Beavers VII, Beavers completed his prison sentence; he was released from prison in 2008, and he was released from parole the year following his release from prison.

         II. Beavers's action for wrongful imprisonment

         {¶ 8} In May 2015, Beavers filed a civil action to be declared a wrongfully imprisoned individual under R.C. 2743.48. Division (A) of the statute defines a "wrongfully imprisoned individual" as one who satisfies these five conditions:

(1) The individual was charged with a violation of a section of the Revised Code by an indictment or information, and the violation charged was an aggravated felony or felony.
(2) The individual was found guilty of, but did not plead guilty to, the particular charge or a lesser-included offense by the court or jury involved, and the offense of which the individual was found guilty was an aggravated felony or felony.
(3) The individual was sentenced to an indefinite or definite term of imprisonment in a state correctional institution for the offense of which the individual was found guilty.
(4) The individual's conviction was vacated, dismissed, or reversed on appeal, the prosecuting attorney in the case cannot or will not seek any further appeal of right or upon leave of court, and no criminal proceeding is pending, can be brought, or will be brought by any prosecuting attorney, city director of law, village solicitor, or other chief legal officer of a municipal corporation against the individual for any act associated with that conviction.
(5) Subsequent to sentencing and during or subsequent to imprisonment, an error in procedure resulted in the individual's release, or it was determined by the court of common pleas in the county where the underlying criminal action was initiated that the charged offense, including all lesser-included offenses, either was not committed by the individual or was not committed by any person.[2]

         {¶ 9} The state moved for summary judgment on the grounds that Beavers could not satisfy the fourth or fifth condition. He could not satisfy the fourth condition, the state argued, because criminal charges could be brought against him until September 16, 2019, when the six-year statute of limitations expired, six years after the dismissal of the charges. The state argued that Beavers could not satisfy the fifth condition because his release from prison was not a result of an error after sentencing.

         {¶ 10} Beavers filed an amended complaint in which he conceded that his "cause of action has not yet accrued because it remains possible for a prosecuting attorney to refile criminal charges against him due to the tolling provisions of R.C. 2903.13(1)." (Amended Complaint, ¶ 27). Beavers also acknowledged that the "entire period of time from the date of Plaintiffs arrest (October 23, 1994, the day after the date of the alleged offenses) through the date of the entry of nolle prosequi (September 16, 2013) is excluded for purposes of calculating the six-year statute of limitations." (Amended Complaint, ¶ 28). He also conceded that the statute of limitations would not run until September 16, 2019.

         {¶ 11} The state again moved for summary judgment and so did Beavers. The state reasserted its arguments that Beavers could not satisfy the fourth and fifth conditions of the statutory definition of "wrongfully imprisoned individual" because criminal charges could be brought against him until September 16, 2019, and because his release from prison was not a result of an error after sentencing. Beavers moved for partial judgment on whether the statute of limitations for his wrongfully-imprisoned-individual claim had already begun to run or whether it did not start to run until after September 16, 2019. In a written decision entered on July 17, 2017, the trial court rejected the state's argument that Beavers could not satisfy the fourth statutory condition. The court concluded that factual issues remained as to that condition and ordered supplemental briefing. The court also rejected the state's fifth-condition argument, concluding that our decisions concerning Beavers's postconviction-relief petition and motion for a new trial showed that an "error in procedure" had occurred-the criminal court's failure to grant a new trial. The trial court said that it would permit the parties to present evidence on the other way that Beavers could satisfy the fifth condition, by proving that he did not commit the offenses.

         {¶ 12} A trial was held at which several eyewitnesses to the shooting testified. Beavers testified that he was not the shooter. Raney Mease also testified that Beavers was not the shooter. Rosalyn Wilcox, Beavers's niece, testified that Beavers was in her car when the shooting occurred, so he could not have been the shooter. The trial court also admitted transcripts of the prior testimony of witnesses who were unavailable. Two of these witnesses offered key testimony for the state. One witness was Arthur Farmer, who was the doorman at the illegal casino. He testified at the 1995 trial that he noticed Beavers at a gambling table in the basement and "he was, loud, and boisterous, and drunk." (Court's Exhibit V, at 138). After daylight, the operation had shut down and the sun was out when he heard loud banging at the front door but he did not immediately answer. When he did go to the door he looked out the "three little windows" and "I seen this guy here [Beavers] reach in the back seat of a car, pull a rifle out, cock the rifle, aim it at the house, and I hit the ground. Gunshots started flying in the door." (Id. at 144). He recognized Beavers as the shooter, testifying as follows: "Well, from down there gambling just a couple hours earlier, because he was loud, and I recognized him. He had on the same clothes." (Id. at 145). Farmer was shot in the foot while crawling on the floor.

         {¶ 13} The other trial witness whose testimony by transcript was introduced was Agnes Maston. Her ex-husband, Robert Maston, was the operator of the gambling club, although she had never been there. Her trial testimony was that Beavers, who she had known for three or four years and had spoken with "on more than one occasion" (Court's Exhibit VI, at 220), called her the day of the shooting and asked her to get in touch with Robert Maston for him. Beavers told her that he had shot at the gambling house and "[h]e told me to tell Robert that if there were any damages done to the house, that he would pay for it." (Id. at 223). Later that day, Agnes was at Beaver's sister's house with her son to pick up some gym shoes, and Beavers was present. "[A]s I came in the door, well, he [Beavers] grabbed and hugged me; and he said that he was sorry, and he was crying, because he was really upset, he was crying, and he said that at that point he did not know that he had shot anyone" (Id. at 225).

         {¶ 14} In a written decision entered on June 18, 2018, the trial court, concluded that Beavers had satisfied the fourth and fifth statutory conditions of the "wrongfully imprisoned individual" definition in R.C. 2743.48(A). Regarding the fourth condition, the court concluded that the 2013 dismissal should have been with prejudice to avoid violating Beavers's constitutional due-process and speedy-trial rights. The court held that these rights were violated by the delay in retrying Beavers after Beavers VI and Beavers VII, primarily because the delay was unfair and a new indictment would violate due process. As to the fifth condition, the court concluded that the condition was satisfied in two ways. One, an error in procedure had occurred-the criminal court had refused to grant Beavers a new trial after Beavers VI and Beavers VII. And two, Beavers had proven that he did not commit the offenses. Having already concluded that Beavers satisfied the first three conditions of the "wrongfully imprisoned individual" definition, the trial court therefore declared that Beavers was a wrongfully imprisoned individual.

         {¶ 15} The state appeals.

         II. Analysis

         {¶ 16} The state assigns two errors to the trial court. The first challenges the trial court's conclusion that Beavers satisfied the fourth condition of the "wrongfully imprisoned individual" definition, and the second challenges the court's conclusion that he satisfied the fifth condition.

         A. The fourth ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.