Court of Appeals of Ohio, Eighth District, Cuyahoga
Criminal Appeal from the Cuyahoga County Court of Common
Pleas Case No. CR-17-623070-A
Michael C. O'Malley, Cuyahoga County Prosecuting
Attorney, and Carson M. Strang, Assistant Prosecuting
Attorney, for appellee.
Mancino, Jr., for appellant.
JOURNAL ENTRY AND OPINION
C. GALLAGHER, PRESIDING JUDGE.
1} Appellant Juvis Montgomery appeals his conviction
and sentence. Upon review, we affirm.
2} On November 27, 2017, appellant was charged in a
nine-count indictment. Appellant was declared indigent and
appointed counsel in the trial court proceedings. During the
course of proceedings, appellant was referred for a
competency evaluation and found competent to stand trial. On
August 29, 2018, appellant entered a plea of guilty to an
amended Count 3, felonious assault in violation of R.C.
2903.11(A)(2), a felony of the second degree, with a one-year
firearm specification, a notice of prior conviction, and a
repeat violent offender specification. He also entered a plea
of guilty to Count 9 as charged, having weapons while under
disability in violation of R.C. 2923.13(A)(2), a felony of
the third degree. The remaining counts were nolled. The trial
court imposed an aggregate term of imprisonment of five years
with three years of mandatory postrelease control, awarded
jail-time credit, and imposed costs against appellant. The
journal entry was entered on August 30, 2018.
3} On October 25, 2018, appellant filed a motion to
withdraw his guilty plea. The trial court denied that motion
on November 6, 2018. On November 26, 2018, appellant filed a
motion "to vacate, suspend or modify or set up a payment
plan" with regard to court costs. The trial court denied
that motion on December 28, 2018.
4} Appellant was granted leave to file a delayed
appeal. He presents six assignments of error claiming his due
process rights were violated.
5} Under his first assignment of error, appellant
claims the trial court failed to conduct a meaningful hearing
concerning his dissatisfaction with trial counsel. Although
appellant argues that the trial court had a duty to inquire
into his claim of dissatisfaction with his court-appointed
counsel, he fails to acknowledge that the Supreme Court of
Ohio has held that the duty to make such inquiry is a
"limited judicial duty" that "'arises only
if the allegations are sufficiently specific; vague or
general objections do not trigger the duty to investigate
further.'" State v. Johnson, 112 Ohio St.3d
210, 2006-Ohio-6404, 858 N.E.2d 1144, ¶ 68, quoting
State v. Carter, 128 Ohio App.3d 419, 423, 715
N.E.2d 223 (4th Dist.1998). Therefore, a trial court is not
required to conduct further inquiry into a defendant's
complaints about his counsel when the defendant expresses
only a generalized dissatisfaction with counsel's
performance but does not allege any specific facts. State
v. Fry, 125 Ohio St.3d 163, 2010-Ohio-1017, 926 N.E.2d
1239, ¶ 165.
6} The record reflects that prior to accepting
appellant's plea, the trial court asked appellant if he
was satisfied with his counsel's representation, to which
he responded, "No." The court then stated,
"Well you may not like him personally, but he's done
a good job for you" and asked appellant "do you
understand that?" Appellant responded, "Yes."
Appellant then confirmed that he was willing to go forward
with his plea. At no point did appellant point to any
specific facts that would indicate that his trial
counsel's performance was deficient. Further, he never
requested that his existing counsel be replaced with other
counsel. Accordingly, we find the trial court was not
required to conduct a hearing and we overrule the first
assignment of error.
7} Under his second assignment of error, appellant
claims the trial court erred when it accepted his guilty
8} Due process requires that a defendant's plea
be made knowingly, intelligently, and voluntarily; otherwise,
the defendant's plea is invalid. State v.
Bishop, 156 Ohio St.3d 156, 2018-Ohio-5132, 124 N.E.3d
766, ¶ 10, citing State v. Clark, 119 Ohio
St.3d 239, 2008-Ohio-3748, 893 N.E.2d 462, ¶ 25.
Appellant raises a number of issues pertaining to his plea.
9} First, appellant claims that he had informed the
trial court that he was not satisfied with counsel. The
record reflects that appellant conceded that counsel had
"done a good job" and he expressed his willingness
to move forward with his plea. Appellant also argues that his
plea of guilty was in the nature of an Alford plea. See
North Carolina v. Alford, 400 U.S. 25, 91 S.Ct. 160, 27
L.Ed.2d 162 (1970). The record reveals that appellant never
made a protestation of his innocence in open court.
10} Next, appellant claims that he did not make an
informed plea because the trial court "did not explain
the offense which required a mandatory sentence containing a
notice of prior conviction and a repeat violent offender
specification" and "[n]one of these offenses was
explained to defendant other than a rote recitation of
constitutional rights." The record reflects that the
trial court substantially complied with the requirements of
Crim.R. 11(C)(2)(a) by informing appellant of the nature of
each of the charges, the maximum penalties involved, and that
he was ineligible for probation. In discussing Count 3, as
amended, the trial court informed appellant that the
"[n]otice of prior conviction makes this
nonprobationable and not eligible for judicial release"
and that the "[n]otice of prior conviction is mandatory
prison time as well as the 1 year firearm
specification." The trial court also informed appellant
as to the repeat violent offender specification. Further, the
trial court informed appellant that the court would be
imposing a sentence of "5 years * * ...