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State v. Smith

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Second District, Montgomery

September 6, 2019

STATE OF OHIO Plaintiff-Appellee
v.
RONALD A. SMITH Defendant-Appellant

          Criminal Appeal from Common Pleas Court Trial Court Case No. 2004-CR-3554

          MATHIAS H. HECK, JR., by LISA M. LIGHT, Atty. Reg. No. 0097348, Montgomery County Prosecutor's Office, Appellate Division, Montgomery County Courts Building, 301 West Third Street, 5th Floor, Dayton, Ohio 45422 Attorney for Plaintiff-Appellee

          RONALD A. SMITH, #A516-443, P.O. Box 7010, Chillicothe, Ohio 45601 Defendant-Appellant, Pro Se

          OPINION

          FROELICH, J.

         {¶ 1} Ronald A. Smith, pro se, appeals from a judgment of the Montgomery County Court of Common Pleas, which denied, without a hearing, his motion for leave to file a motion for new trial and his motion for new trial.[1] For the following reasons, the trial court's judgment will be affirmed.

         I. Procedural History

         {¶ 2} In October 2004, Smith was indicted for aggravated burglary (deadly weapon) and aggravated robbery (deadly weapon).[2] Smith received appointed counsel, who filed a demand for discovery, a motion for a bill of particulars, a request for notice of the State's intention to use certain evidence-in-chief, motions to suppress, and the defendant's witness list. While his case was pending, Smith also filed numerous pro se motions, including motions for new counsel, a motion for change of venue, motions to dismiss and for evidentiary hearings, a motion to reduce or modify bond, and a motion for a scheduling conference. The trial court denied all of Smith's pro se motions.

         {¶ 3} In September 2005, the matter proceeded to a jury trial, during which Smith was represented by the same counsel. The jury found Smith guilty of aggravated burglary and aggravated robbery, as charged. Following the jury's verdicts, Smith brought several additional pro se motions, including multiple motions for a new trial, a motion for a judgment of acquittal, and multiple motions for new counsel/ineffective assistance of counsel. Each of these motions was overruled.

         {¶ 4} After a sentencing hearing in January 2006, during which Smith continued to be represented by the same counsel, the trial court sentenced Smith to consecutive ten-year prison terms, for a total sentence of 20 years in prison. We affirmed Smith's convictions on direct appeal. State v. Smith, 2d Dist. Montgomery Nos. 21463 & 22334, 2008-Ohio-6330.

         {¶ 5} Since his conviction, Smith has filed numerous motions for a new trial or for leave to file such a motion. Of relevance here, on June 22, 2018, Smith filed a motion for leave to file a motion for new trial, claiming that the trial court subjected him to illegal hybrid representation on multiple occasions. Specifically, Smith stated that the trial court refused to entertain a February 15, 2006 pro se motion for a new trial because he was represented by counsel, but the trial court addressed several prior pro se motions while Smith was represented by counsel. Smith argued that, due to ineffective assistance of counsel, he had no knowledge of his current basis for a new trial, i.e., that he was subjected to illegal hybrid representation. Smith supported his motion with an affidavit of verity, a copy of the trial court's docket as of September 8, 2010, and the trial court's decision denying the February 15, 2006 motion. Smith filed a motion for new trial, citing illegal hybrid representation, on July 30, 2018.

         {¶ 6} The State responded to Smith's motions, arguing that Smith presented no evidence that he was unavoidably prevented from filing his motion for new trial in a timely manner and that Smith presented no newly discovered evidence. On February 13, 2019, the trial court overruled Smith's motion for leave to file a motion for new trial and the motion for new trial, adopting the reasoning set forth by the State. Smith appeals from the trial court's ruling.

         II. New Trial Motions

         {¶ 7} In his sole assignment of error, Smith claims that the trial court abused its discretion by denying his motion for leave to file a motion for new trial without first conducting an evidentiary hearing.

         {¶ 8} Motions for a new trial are governed by Crim.R. 33. A new trial may be granted if any of several grounds exist that materially affected the defendant's substantial rights, including (1) "irregularity in the proceedings * * * because of which the defendant was prevented from having a fair trial," (2) misconduct of the jury, (3) accident or surprise which ordinary prudence could not have guarded against, (4) the verdict is not sustained by sufficient ...


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