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State v. Myers

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Twelfth District, Madison

January 13, 2020

STATE OF OHIO, Appellee,
JOSEPH L. MYERS, Appellant.


          Stephen J. Pronai, Madison County Prosecuting Attorney, for appellee

          L. Patrick Mulligan & Associates, LLC, Laura M. Woodruff, L. Patrick Mulligan, for appellant


          RINGLAND, J.

         {¶ 1} Appellant, Joseph Myers, appeals his conviction in the Madison County Municipal Court after a jury found him guilty of criminal mischief. For the reasons detailed below, we affirm.

         {¶ 2} On September 20, 2018, appellant was charged with one count of criminal mischief in violation of R.C. 2909.07(A)(1), a third-degree misdemeanor. The state alleged that appellant had knocked down and removed a section of fence located in the Paint Township Cemetery. Appellant appeared without an attorney and represented himself pro se.

         {¶ 3} Pertinent to this matter is a long-held grievance by appellant against the Township. Appellant owns property and lives next door to the cemetery. In a pretrial filing to the court, appellant submitted a series of deeds, surveys, correspondence, and miscellaneous interpretations of the law with respect to, among other things, boundary lines and permissible uses of the cemetery. According to the record before this court, appellant believes that, based on his review of the deeds, surveys, and interpretations of law, that there is a public roadway that the Township is denying public access to or blocking.

         {¶ 4} Throughout these proceedings, appellant filed three sets of subpoenas for various County and Township officials and employees. On October 9, 2018, appellant commanded the following individuals to appear at a pretrial conference duces tecum: (1) Dave Hughes with the Madison County Zoning Department, (2) Bryan Dhume, a Madison County Engineer, (3) Phil Eades, a Paint Township Trustee, (4) Steve Cordell, a second Paint Township Trustee. The subpoenas requested that the individuals provide him "all and every piece of information" and "all paperwork, zoneing [sic] request, orders written and verbal, letters, notes of any kind including texts" relating to the Paint Township Cemetery and adjoining property. The state moved to quash the subpoenas as overbroad, oppressive, unreasonable, irrelevant, vague, and filed under the wrong case number. The trial court granted the state's motion to quash.

         {¶ 5} On October 22, 2018, appellant reissued the subpoenas for the same four individuals for a jury trial scheduled on November 1, 2018. The subpoenas were also requested duces tecum, again requesting "all and every piece of information" or "all paperwork" relating to the cemetery. The state, again, moved to quash, which the trial court granted. However, the trial was continued until January 17, 2019.

         {¶ 6} On January 8, 2019, appellant reissued just one subpoena for Trustee Cordell and requested that he "[b]ring all paperwork regarding said Fence including receipts and date at installation." The subpoena for Cordell commanded him to appear on January 16, 2019 at 10:30 am, the day before trial. The state did not move to quash the subpoena and it is not known whether Cordell appeared.

         {¶ 7} The matter proceeded to a jury trial on January 17, 2019. The state presented the testimony of Jared Miller, a seasonal employee with the Township who was hired to cut the cemetery's lawn. At trial, Miller testified that he had observed appellant driving a tractor along the fence line. When Miller approached the area where the tractor had been, he observed that the fence had been pulled down and dragged down a hill.

         {¶ 8} Deputy Wesley Davis was dispatched to the cemetery to investigate the damage to the fence. Deputy Davis observed the damaged fence and interviewed Miller and appellant. Deputy Davis testified that appellant was very evasive and refused to answer "yes or no" questions.

         {¶ 9} Next, Trustee Jeff Kibler testified that appellant did not have permission to tear down the cemetery fence. Kibler testified that the fence was erected by the Township to lim it access to the cemetery and to prevent rural snowmobilers and four-wheelers from driving through the cemetery. Kibler stated that appellant has had issues with the Township with regard to the fence and had previously expressed a desire to remove the fence.

         {¶ 10} Following the admission of exhibits, the state rested. Appellant attempted to call Cordell as a witness. However, since the subpoena was issued for the wrong day, Cordell was not in attendance and was not subject to the ...

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