DUI Appeals Reports 02/03/16

In two cases, the Eleventh District holds that a motion to dismiss based on speedy trial revokes any prior speedy trial waivers; and a waiver of counsel at arraignment is insufficient to waive counsel at trial.

State v. Schwentker, 2015 Ohio 5526 (11th Dist).


December 31, 2015

Schwentker was charged with an OVI and other minor traffic violations on January 26, 2013.  On February 1, 2013, he entered a not-guilty plea and a written speedy-trial waiver.  On March 15, 2013 he filed a motion to suppress, which was heard on May 10, 2013.  After nearly a year without a decision, Schwentker filed a motion to dismiss on March 28, 2014 explaining that he had been left in "limbo."  Nearly a year after that, the court granted his motion to dismiss on January 19, 2015 stating, "A 'speedy trial' issue has arisen herein due to this Court's inadvertence"

The State appealed the dismissal, first challenging the court's granting of the motion to suppress and second challenging the granting of the motion to dismiss.  The Eleventh District first observed that, because the trial court never granted the motion to suppress, there was nothing to appeal or decide on this issue.  The Eleventh District then explained that written waivers of speedy trial can be withdrawn by demanding trial, objecting to any further continuances, or filing a motion to dismiss based on speedy-trial grounds.  The court observed that Schwentker's motion to dismiss was based on speedy trial grounds, and that the trial court exhausted the 90 days of R.C. 2945.71(B) when it took nearly a year to rule on that motion.

State v. Victor, 2015 Ohio 5520 (11th Dist).


December 31, 2015

Victor was charged on January 11, 2014 for an OVI and failure to control.  Representing herself, she filed motions including a motion to suppress on January 16, 2014, which was denied after a hearing on May 6, 2014.  Victor was ultimately found guilty after a trial.  The Eleventh District reviewed her appeals based on whether she was denied her right to counsel.

The State objected to Victor's appeal, arguing that she waived counsel at her arraignment.  However, the Eleventh District quoted a First Distrct decision in State v. Vordenberge, 148 Ohio App. 3d 488, 2002 Ohio 1612 (1st Dist)., for the following rule:

A waiver of counsel at an arraignment is effective for that proceeding only; before proceeding with a trial, the trial court must independently determine whether the defendant desires to waive counsel and whether, at that time, he has made a knowing, intelligent, and voluntary waiver.

The Eleventh District could find no record that Victor was informed of her right to counsel and made a knowing, intelligent, and voluntary waiver at that time.  Further, the Eleventh District concluded the error was not harmless given her missteps and confusion during voir dire and trial.  As a result, the Eleventh District granted her appeal.

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