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State v. Gaines

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Sixth District, Huron

December 6, 2019

State of Ohio Appellee
v.
Joseph P. Gaines Appellant

          Trial Court No. CRI 20110712

          James Joel Sitterly, Huron County Prosecuting Attorney, for appellee.

          Loretta Riddle, for appellant.

          DECISION AND JUDGMENT

          ZMUDA, J.

         I. Introduction

         {¶ 1} Appellant, Joseph Gaines, appeals the judgment of the Huron County Court of Common Pleas, denying his motion to seal criminal conviction. Because we find that the trial court abused its discretion in denying the motion, we reverse.

         A. Facts and Procedural Background

         {¶ 2} On March 20, 2012, appellant was sentenced to 90 days in jail following his guilty plea to one count of burglary in violation of R.C. 2911.11(A)(4), a felony of the fourth degree. Appellant's conviction stemmed from an incident that took place on August 13, 2011, in which appellant forced his way into his ex-wife's residence and proceeded to attack his ex-wife's boyfriend.

         {¶ 3} On January 11, 2019, after successfully completing his jail sentence and his term of community control, appellant filed a motion to seal his burglary conviction with the trial court. In his motion, appellant noted that he had "led a law abiding life and been a productive member of society." Appellant went on to insist that the conduct that gave rise to his burglary conviction was "not representative of the person that he is and has been for well over 7 years since this conviction."

         {¶ 4} On January 23, 2019, the state filed its response to appellant's motion, in which the state acknowledged that appellant has not had any subsequent criminal convictions and therefore meets the statutory definition of an "eligible offender" under R.C. 2953.31. Thus, the state indicated in its written memorandum that it did not oppose the sealing of appellant's burglary conviction.

         {¶ 5} Thereafter, the trial court set the matter for a "non-oral hearing" on February 7, 2019. In its scheduling order, the trial court indicated that "[c]ounsel and parties are not required to attend non-oral hearings."

         {¶ 6} On February 12, 2019, the trial court issued its decision on appellant's motion, the entirety which reads as follows:

         This matter is before the court on Defendant's Motion to Seal Criminal Conviction.

The Defendant was convicted of Burglary where a weapon was involved and threat ...

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