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Jones v. Thomas

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Tenth District

December 5, 2019

Antonio M. Jones, Plaintiff-Appellant,
v.
Larry Thomas, Defendant-Appellee.

          APPEAL from the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas C.P.C. No. 18CV-7218

          Antonio M. Jones, pro se.

          DECISION

          PER CURIAM

         {¶ 1} Plaintiff-appellant, Antonio M. Jones, appeals the judgment of the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas which, under R.C. 2935.10, refused to issue a warrant for the arrest of defendant-appellee, Larry Thomas, and ordered the case referred to the prosecuting attorney. For the following reasons, we affirm the trial court.

         I. FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         {¶ 2} On August 23, 2018, appellant, an inmate at the Chillicothe Correctional Institution, filed an affidavit, pursuant to R.C. 2935.09 and 2935.10, accusing appellee, appellant's former defense attorney, of committing crimes against him in defending him against a murder charge. Specifically, he alleged appellee knowingly violated appellant's constitutional rights and created a risk of physical harm to him under R.C. 2921.45 when he "negligently failed to protect [appellant's] rights to a fair trial, and conspired [with the prosecutor] to produce a conviction against his own client" by "knowingly put[ting] forth a defense he knew would lose"-a defense "that made absolutely no sense, as said defense was completely contrary to the evidence he knew was being introduce[d] at trial by the state." (Compl. at 2, 3.) Appellant additionally alleged appellee obstructed official business under R.C. 2921.31 by: failing to put forth a reasonable defense and instead choosing a defense "he knew would lose"; lying to other court officials and concealing material facts; and allowing the court to abuse its authority. (Compl. at 3.) According to appellant, appellee's actions, including his failure to object, showed he "conspired with the system to convict on the charge of murder even after both the judge, and the prosecutor openly admitted that they felt [appellant] did not intend to kill the victim." (Compl. at 3.) Appellant asserted this is a case where "ineffective assistance of trial counsel, or mere negligence of counsel" rises to the level of a criminal offense. (Compl. at 3.)

         {¶ 3} In support of his affidavit, appellant included a police report of an interview with appellant, which states in pertinent part that appellant told the investigator he "missed the guy (who he believed was reaching for a gun) and did not think he hit anything" and said shooting the victim "was an accident, and * * * he was trying to shoot someone else." (Ex. A-1 to Compl. at 2.) Appellant also provided two pages of transcript that appear to be from appellant's sentencing hearing, in which the prosecutor states:

At trial it was undisputed that [appellant] wasn't actually trying to shoot the victim * * * in this case. I wouldn't want that, the fact that he wasn't trying to shoot that person makes it seem like it is an accident. However, I think it is important to note that the jury did find him guilty of Count 1, which is purpose murder with transferred intent. Therefore the fact that he killed the wrong person, I find not to be any sort of a mitigating factor in this crime.

(Ex. A-1 to Comp. at 3.)

         {¶ 4} On June 10, 2019, the trial court issued a decision finding, under R.C. 2935.10, appellant's affidavit lacked meritorious claims and no probable cause existed for the felony or misdemeanor charges alleged against appellee. The trial court further found appellant's affidavit was not made in good faith but was rather a collateral attack on appellant's criminal conviction, which had previously been affirmed by this court. The trial court therefore held that no warrant would issue for the arrest of appellee, terminated the case, and, pursuant to the procedure mandated by R.C. 2935.10(A), referred the case to the prosecuting attorney for review and investigation.

         {¶ 5} Appellant filed a timely appeal.

         II. ASSIGNMENTS OF ERROR

         {¶ 6} Appellant assigns the following as trial court error:

[1.] APPELLANT CONTENDS THAT THE TRIAL COURT DENIED HIM SUBSTANTIVE DUE PROCESS AS WELL AS EQUAL PROTECTION OF THE LAW WHEN IT IGNORED OVERWHELEMING EVIDENCE THAT THE DEFENDANT-APPELLEE COMITTED THE CRIME OF OBSTRUCTING OFFICIAL BUSSINESS, AND CONSPIRED TO DEPRIVE THE APPELLANT OF HIS CIVIL AND CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS, THUS VIOLATING ...

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