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State ex rel. Russell v. Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Tenth District

December 3, 2019

The State ex rel. Mark Russell, Relator,
v.
Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction, Respondent.

         IN MANDAMUS ON OBJECTION TO THE MAGISTRATE'S DECISION

         On brief:

          Mark Russell, pro se.

          [Dave Yost], Attorney General, and Ina Avalon, for respondent.

          DECISION

          BRUNNER, J.

         I. INTRODUCTION AND PROCEDURAL POSTURE

         {¶ 1} Relator, Mark Russell, an inmate at the Warren Correctional Institution, brought this original action solely against the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction ("ODRC"), requesting that this Court order ODRC to hold a use of force hearing about allegations concerning actions taken by a corrections officer against Russell when he was incarcerated at the Pickaway Correctional Institution. (Apr. 6, 2017 Petition at ¶ 1, 4-6.)[1] Russell also alleged in his petition that the corrections officer in question was "from the Noble Correctional Institution" but was participating in a "shakedown" at the Pickaway Correctional Institution. Id. at ¶ 4-5. Russell alleged in his petition that this Court has jurisdiction under Article IV, Section 3(B)(1)(b) of the Ohio Constitution. Id. at ¶ 3.

         {¶ 2} We referred Russell's mandamus petition to a magistrate in accordance with Civ.R. 53(C) and Loc.R. 13(M) of the Tenth District Court of Appeals. (Apr. 24, 2017 Entry.) On May 8, 2017, ODRC moved to dismiss this action, arguing that it should have been brought in the county where the events occurred-in this case, Pickaway County. (May 8, 2017 Mot. to Dismiss at 4-5.) ODRC argued that we lacked jurisdiction because of the incorrect venue of the action. Id.

         {¶ 3} On June 30, 2017, after the parties had fully briefed ODRC's motion to dismiss, the magistrate issued a decision, including findings of facts and conclusions of law (appended to this decision). The magistrate found that Russell was attempting to compel either Pickaway Correctional Institution (where the alleged action occurred) or Warren Correctional Institution (where Russell is currently incarcerated), to conduct a use of force hearing based on this alleged incident. As those locations and the relevant parties to the case are outside this appellate district, the magistrate determined that we lack territorial jurisdiction over this mandamus action and recommended that we dismiss the petition.

         {¶ 4} Russell filed a timely objection to the magistrate's decision. (July 13, 2017 Obj.) In that objection, he disputed the magistrate's jurisdictional finding. Id. Russell also observed that his mandamus action was brought against ODRC, which is located within the territorial boundaries of this appellate district. Id.

         II. DISCUSSION

         {¶ 5} Civ.R. 53(D)(4)(b), concerning matters heard by magistrates, provides "[w]hether or not objections are timely filed, a court may adopt or reject a magistrate's decision in whole or in part, with or without modification. A court may hear a previously-referred matter, take additional evidence, or return a matter to a magistrate." Under this rule there are two different standards of review:

If no timely objections are filed, the court may adopt a magistrate's decision, unless it determines that there is an error of law or other defect evident on the face of the magistrate's decision.

Civ. R. 53(D)(4)(c).

If one or more objections to a magistrate's decision are timely filed, the court shall rule on those objections. In ruling on objections, the court shall undertake an independent review as to the objected matters to ascertain that the magistrate has properly ...

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