Court of Appeals of Ohio, Fifth District, Richland
Petitioner: Chadren Heston #A570-290 Marion Correctional
Respondent: Joseph C. Snyder Assistant Prosecutor Richland
County Prosecutor's Office
JUDGES: Hon. William B. Hoffman, P.J. Hon. Patricia A.
Delaney, J. Hon. Earle E. Wise, Jr., J.
On October 25, 2019, Chadren Heston filed a petition for writ
of mandamus to compel the "Judges of the Court of Common
Pleas of Richland County, Ohio" to resentence him or
vacate his sentence. Mr. Heston bases his request on the
cases of State v. Bonnell, 140 Ohio St.3d 209,
2014-Ohio-3177, 16 N.E.3d 659 and State v. Comer, 99
Ohio St.3d 463, 2003-Ohio-4165, 793 N.E.2d 473. Mr. Heston
maintains the trial court must apply these cases to his case
under the law of the case doctrine.
For a writ of mandamus to issue, the relator must have a
clear legal right to the relief prayed for, the respondent
must be under a clear legal duty to perform the requested
act, and relator must have no plain and adequate remedy in
the ordinary course of the law. (Citations omitted.)
State ex rel. Berger v. McMonagle, 6 Ohio St.3d 28,
29, 451 N.E.2d 225 (1983). The Richland County Prosecutor
moved to dismiss Mr. Heston's writ under Civ.R. 12(B)(6)
for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be
"A court can dismiss a mandamus action under Civ.R.
12(B)(6) for failure to state a claim upon which relief can
be granted 'if, after all factual allegations of the
complaint are presumed true and all reasonable inferences are
made in the relator's favor, it appears beyond doubt that
he can prove no set of facts entitling him to the requested
writ of mandamus.'" State ex rel. Sands v.
Culotta, 2019-Ohio-3784, ¶2, citing State ex
rel. Russell v. Thornton, 111 Ohio St.3d 409,
2006-Ohio-5858, 856 N.E.2d 966, ¶ 9.
Upon review of the pleadings filed in this matter, the Court
grants the motion to dismiss for the following reasons.
First, Mr. Heston's writ raises an alleged sentencing
error arguing the trial court must comply with the Ohio
Supreme Court's decision in State v. Bonnell
before imposing consecutive sentences. In Bonnell,
the Court explained that, "[i]n order to impose
consecutive terms of imprisonment, a trial court is required
to make the findings mandated by R.C. 2929.14(C)(4) at the
sentencing hearing and incorporate its findings into its
sentencing entry, but it has no obligation to state reasons
to support its findings." Bonnell,
2014-Ohio-3177 at ¶37, 16 N.E.3d 659.
Mr. Heston's writ of mandamus is not the proper mechanism
to correct alleged sentencing errors. The law is
well-established that sentencing errors may not be remedied
through an extraordinary writ because the defendant usually
has or had "an adequate remedy at law available by way
of direct appeal." State ex rel. Ridenour v.
O'Connell, 147 Ohio St.3d 351, 2016-Ohio-7368, 65
N.E.3d 742, ¶3. Mr. Heston's consecutive-sentence
argument falls under this general rule. Mr. Heston could have
appealed the resentencing Entry entered on August 11, 2010 by
way of a direct appeal. However, there is no indication that
he did so. Mandamus will not lie as a substitute for an
appeal he failed to pursue.
As a second independent ground supporting the dismissal of
Mr. Heston's writ of mandamus, we note Mr. Heston
identified the Respondent in this original action as
"Judges of the Court of Common Pleas of Richland County,
Ohio[.]" By naming all of the judges of the Richland
County Court of Common Pleas, Mr. Heston has not properly
invoked the Court's jurisdiction by proper service on the
trial court or judge. As the prosecutor points out in his
motion to dismiss, there are five judges in the Richland
County Common Pleas Court, which encompasses the juvenile,
probate, domestic relations, and general divisions of the
court. However, only the trial court judge assigned to Mr.
Heston's criminal matter would have the legal authority
to schedule a new sentencing hearing. "As a general
proposition, an action in mandamus must be brought against
the public official who has the legal obligation to perform
the non-discretionary act in question." (Citation
omitted.) State v. Scranton, 11th Dist. Portage No.
2005-P-0020, 2005-Ohio-2886, ¶5. Further, a writ of
mandamus will issue only when the relator can establish the
respondent has a clear legal duty to perform the requested
act. State ex rel. Manson v. Morris, 66 Ohio St.3d
440, 441, 613 N.E.2d 232 (1993). Since the "Judges of
the Court of Common Pleas of Richland County, Ohio" are
not collectively capable of resentencing Mr. Heston, he
cannot satisfy the "clear legal duty" requirement
necessary for a writ of mandamus to issue. See Mallon v.
State, 11th Dist. Trumbull No. 2008-T-0079,
For these reasons, the prosecutor's motion to dismiss is
granted. The clerk of courts is hereby directed to serve upon
all parties not in default notice of this judgment and its
date of entry upon the journal. See Civ.R. 58(B).