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City of University Heights v. Zaccaro-Hoffman

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Eighth District, Cuyahoga

January 16, 2020

CITY OF UNIVERSITY HEIGHTS, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
DEBORAH ZACCARO-HOFFMAN, Defendant-Appellant.

          Criminal Appeal from the Shaker Heights Municipal Court Case No. 18CRB01354

          Stephanie B. Scalise, Prosecuting Attorney, University Heights, for appellee.

          Deborah Zaccaro-Hoffman, pro se.

          JOURNAL ENTRY AND OPINION

          PATRICIA ANN BLACKMON, PRESIDING JUDGE.

         {¶ 1} This cause came to be upon the accelerated calendar pursuant to App.R. 11.1 and Loc.App.R. 11.1. Defendant-appellant, Deborah Zaccaro-Hoffman ("Zaccaro-Hoffman") appeals from her no contest plea and assigns the following errors for our review:

I. Appellant's plea was not made knowingly, voluntarily, and intelligently due to the ineffective assistance of her trial counsel.
II. The trial court committed reversible error when it found appellant guilty without calling for an explanation of the circumstances as required by R.C. 2937.07 and without which there were no facts in evidence to support the offense charged.
III. The trial court erred by finding appellant guilty of telephone harassment when it improperly accepted her plea without complying with Crim.R. 11 and did not announce its verdict in open court.

         {¶ 2} Having reviewed the record and pertinent law, we affirm the trial court's judgment. The apposite facts follow.

         {¶3} Zaccaro-Hoffman sent text messages to J.M., who is Zaccaro-Hoffman's ex-boyfriend, on November 26 and 27, 2018. Prior to this, J.M. had told Zaccaro-Hoffman "numerous times" to stop contacting him, and on June 6, 2018 and August 30, 2018, the University Heights Police Department contacted Zaccaro-Hoffman per J.M.'s request and ordered her to end all contact with J.M., including "telephone conversations, text messaging, email, and any type of social media."

         {¶ 4} On December 5, 2018, Zaccaro-Hoffman was charged with one count of telecommunications harassment in violation of R.C. 2917.21, a first-degree misdemeanor. On February 27, 2019, Zaccaro-Hoffman pled no contest as charged. On April 10, 2019, the court sentenced Zaccaro-Hoffman to 60 days in jail, suspended, one year of probation, and a fine. The court also ordered Zaccaro-Hoffman to continue individual therapy and have no contact with J.M. It is from this plea that Zaccaro-Hoffman appeals. We note that appellee, University Heights, did not file an appellate brief in this case.

         Ineffective assistance of counsel

         {¶ 5} To succeed on a claim of ineffective assistance of counsel, a defendant must establish that his or her attorney's performance was deficient and that the defendant was prejudiced by the deficient performance. Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. 668, 104 S.Ct. 2052, 80 L.Ed.2d 674 (1984). However, "a court need not determine whether counsel's performance was deficient before examining the prejudice suffered by the defendant as a result of the alleged deficiencies. The object of an ineffectiveness claim is not to grade counsel's performance." Id. at 697. See also State v. Bradley, 42 Ohio St.3d 136, 538 N.E.2d 3743 (1989).

         {¶ 6} "When a defendant claims ineffective assistance after entering a [no contest] plea, she must also show that the ineffective assistance precluded her from entering the plea knowingly and voluntarily." State v. Mays,174 Ohio App.3d 681, 2008-Ohio-128, 884 N.E.2d 607, ¶ 9 (8th Dist). See also State v. Wright, 8th Dist. Cuyahoga No. 98345, 2013-Ohio-936, ΒΆ 11 (a "plea waives the defendant's right to claim he was prejudiced by the ineffective assistance of ...


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