In re M.W., No. 2011–0215.

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Ohio
Writing for the CourtO'DONNELL
Citation133 Ohio St.3d 309,978 N.E.2d 164
Docket NumberNo. 2011–0215.
Decision Date03 October 2012
PartiesIn re M.W.

133 Ohio St.3d 309
978 N.E.2d 164

In re M.W.

No. 2011–0215.

Supreme Court of Ohio.

Submitted Dec. 6, 2011.
Decided Oct. 3, 2012.


[978 N.E.2d 165]



[Ohio St.3d 309]Syllabus of the Court


The term “proceedings” as used in R.C. 2151.352 means court proceedings, and in that context, a child is statutorily entitled to representation by legal counsel upon the filing of a complaint in juvenile court or upon initial appearance in the juvenile court.

William D. Mason, Cuyahoga County Prosecuting Attorney, and Daniel T. Van and Richard Hanrahan, Assistant Prosecuting Attorneys, for appellee, state of Ohio.

Timothy Young, State Public Defender, and Amanda J. Powell, Assistant Public Defender, for appellant, M.W.


Marsha L. Levick, urging reversal for amicus curiae Juvenile Law Center.

Kim Brooks Tandy, urging reversal for amicus curiae Children's Law Center.

Nadia Seeratan, urging reversal for amicus curiae National Juvenile Defender Center.

Joshua Tepfer, urging reversal for amicus curiae Center on Wrongful Convictions of Youth.

James L. Handiman, urging reversal for amicus curiae American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio.

O'DONNELL, J.

[Ohio St.3d 310]{¶ 1} The issue we confront in this appeal is whether a juvenile has a statutory right to counsel during a police interrogation conducted before a complaint is filed or an appearance is made in juvenile court.

{¶ 2} R.C. 2151.352 provides that a child “is entitled to representation by legal counsel at all stages of the proceedings under this chapter or Chapter 2152.” Because the term “proceedings,” as used in this statute, means court proceedings, a juvenile does not have a statutory right to counsel at an interrogation conducted prior to the filing of a complaint or prior to appearing in juvenile court. Accordingly, we affirm the judgment of the court of appeals.

Facts and Procedural History

{¶ 3} On August 22, 2009, Cleveland Police Sergeant Thomas Shoulders stopped a vehicle driven by M.W. (who at that time identified himself as M.J.) and determined he had no valid Ohio driver's license. When Shoulders asked why he lied about his name, M.W. stated he “thought [he] could get away with it” and he thought he had been stopped for “something to do with [A.C.]” Shoulders knew that A.C. had been arrested for aggravated robbery the previous day and therefore asked M.W. what he knew about that robbery. M.W. told Shoulders that he heard A.C. robbed “someone at gun point on Thursday night” and then added that he had served as the lookout for A.C.: “I kept anyone from walking up on him or watched for the police.” M.W. further explained that after the robbery, they each ran, intending to split the money the following day, but the

[978 N.E.2d 166]

police arrested A.C. before they had that opportunity.

{¶ 4} Based on those statements, Shoulders arrested M.W., transported him to the Cleveland Second District Police Station, and in the presence of Detective David Borden, advised M.W. of his constitutional rights. M.W. signed a written waiver of his rights and a written statement.1 Detective Borden then filed a complaint in the Cuyahoga County Juvenile Court alleging M.W. to be delinquent for having committed aggravated robbery, in violation of R.C. 2911.01(A)(1), a felony of the first degree, with firearm specifications pursuant to R.C. 2941.141 and 2941.145.

[Ohio St.3d 311]{¶ 5} The state moved to bind M.W. over to the general division of common pleas court in order to prosecute M.W. as an adult. The juvenile court denied that motion, finding M.W. amenable to care and rehabilitation in the juvenile system.

{¶ 6} Subsequently, a juvenile court magistrate adjudicated M.W. delinquent of aggravated robbery with a three-year firearm specification, and the juvenile court adopted that decision: it placed M.W. in the custody of the Ohio Department of Youth Services for a minimum of one year on the aggravated-robbery charge and one year on the three-year firearm specification, to be served consecutively, for a period of commitment not to exceed 21 years of age.

{¶ 7} M.W. appealed, and raised several claims, urging that the trial court erred in admitting his written statement into evidence because Shoulders had violated R.C. 2151.352 in obtaining it. That statute provides a juvenile with a right to representation by legal counsel at all stages of the proceedings pursuant to R.C. Chapters 2151 and 2152. M.W. asserted that giving a written statement to Shoulders was a proceeding and triggered his statutory right to counsel. He further claimed that based on In re C.S., 115 Ohio St.3d 267, 2007-Ohio-4919, 874 N.E.2d 1177, he could not waive his Fifth Amendment right to counsel during interrogation, recognized in Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436, 86 S.Ct. 1602, 16 L.Ed.2d 694 (1966), unless he had consulted with a parent, guardian, custodian, or attorney regarding the waiver. Because he had not consulted anyone, M.W. argued that the waiver of his Miranda right to counsel was invalid based on In re C.S.

{¶ 8} The state disputed the assertion that interrogation constituted a proceeding within the scope of R.C. Chapter 2151 at which the right to counsel pursuant to R.C. 2151.352 attached, arguing that the term “proceedings” in R.C. 2151.352 meant court proceedings. It cited the definitions for the terms “court proceeding” and “party” contained in Juv.R. 2 and the requirement of Juv.R. 4 that parties to a juvenile court proceeding are entitled to counsel. The state further explained that a juvenile-delinquency proceeding commences when a complaint is filed or a juvenile appears before the juvenile court. In this case, the state argued that because M.W. gave his written statement before Detective Borden filed the complaint in juvenile court that commenced the delinquency proceeding against him, his statutory right to counsel had not attached at the time of interrogation.

{¶ 9} The appellate court rejected M.W.'s claim that giving a written statement to Shoulders constituted a stage of the proceedings, explaining that “a juvenile proceeding does not commence until the filing of a complaint.”

[978 N.E.2d 167]

8th Dist. No. 94737, 2010-Ohio-6362, 2010 WL 5486847, ¶ 16. It concluded that because no [Ohio St.3d 312]complaint had been filed against M.W. at the time of the police interrogation, R.C. 2151.352 did not apply. Id.2

{¶ 10} M.W. appealed and now presents this proposition of law for our consideration:

A child has the right to counsel at all stages of the proceedings against him. Because Ohio's General Assembly has designated interrogation as a stage of the proceedings, a child must be represented by his parent, guardian, custodian, or an attorney before the child can waive his right to counsel pursuant to Miranda.

{¶ 11} M.W. contends that an interrogation is an R.C. Chapter 2151 proceeding because it is included in R.C. 2151.311(D)(2) and that he had a statutory right to counsel at all stages of the proceedings pursuant to R.C. 2151.352 that arose before he waived his Miranda right to counsel. He further asserts that the waiver of his Miranda right to counsel is invalid based on In re C.S. because he had not consulted with an attorney or parent.

{¶ 12} The state contends that an interrogation is not a “proceeding” as that term is used in R.C. 2151.352 or within the usual and ordinary definition of the term. It also contends that the legislative history of R.C. 2151.352 does not support a finding that an interrogation is a proceeding and that the term “proceeding” is used consistently throughout the Revised Code to mean a court proceeding. The state also asserts that the juvenile rules of procedure similarly do not lend support to M.W.'s position, pointing out that Juv.R. 2(G) defines “court proceeding” to mean any action taken by a court after the filing of a complaint or the time the child first appears before the court and that Juv.R. 4(A) states that the right to counsel does not attach until the juvenile becomes “a party to a juvenile court proceeding.” Thus, the state contends that because interrogation is not an R.C. Chapter 2151 proceeding, the right of a juvenile to counsel pursuant to R.C. 2151.352 does not arise until the juvenile appears before the court, and, in turn, In re C.S. does not apply in this case.

{¶ 13} Thus, the issue presented by this appeal is whether the statutory right to counsel delineated by the General Assembly in R.C. 2151.352 attaches to an interrogation of a juvenile prior to the filing of a complaint alleging delinquency or prior to an appearance by the juvenile in juvenile court. Resolution of that issue rests on the definition of the term “proceedings” as used in R.C. 2151.352.

[Ohio St.3d 313]Law and Analysis

{¶ 14} R.C. 2151.352 provides: “A child, the child's parents or custodian, or any other person in loco parentis of the child is entitled to representation by legal counsel at all stages of the proceedings under this chapter or Chapter 2152 of the Revised Code.”

{¶ 15} R.C. 2151.311(C)(1) provides that a person taking a child into custody for a delinquent act that would be a felony if committed by an adult, may hold the child for processing purposes for a maximum of six hours in an adult center. The statute further defines “processing purposes” to include “ [i]nterrogating the child, contacting the child's parent or guardian, arranging

[978 N.E.2d 168]

for placement of the child, or arranging for transfer or transferring the child, while holding the child in a nonsecure area of the facility.” (Emphasis added.) R.C. 2151.311(D)(2).

{¶ 16} In the case of In re C.S., we construed R.C. 2151.352 in the context of a delinquency proceeding and held that “a juvenile may waive his constitutional right to counsel, subject to certain standards * * *, if he is counseled and advised by his parent, custodian, or guardian. If the juvenile is not counseled by his parent, guardian, or custodian and has not consulted with an attorney, he may not waive his right to counsel.” 115...

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33 practice notes
  • San Allen, Inc. v. Buehrer, No. 99786.
    • United States
    • United States Court of Appeals (Ohio)
    • May 15, 2014
    ...{¶ 77} “The primary goal in construing a statute is to ascertain and give effect to the intent of the legislature.” In re M.W., 133 Ohio St.3d 309, 2012-Ohio-4538, 978 N.E.2d 164, ¶ 17, citing State v. Hairston, 101 Ohio St.3d 308, 2004-Ohio-969, 804 N.E.2d 471, ¶ 11. We examine the plain l......
  • In re A.G., No. 2014–2190.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Ohio
    • June 9, 2016
    ...it is the filing of a complaint that invokes the juvenile court's jurisdiction. R.C. 2152.021 ; Juv. R. 2(F) and 10 ; In re M.W., 133 Ohio St.3d 309, 2012-Ohio-4538, 978 N.E.2d 164, ¶ 21. "Ohio juvenile proceedings do not result in criminal convictions—a juvenile court proceeding is a ......
  • In re A.G., No. 2014-2190
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Ohio
    • June 9, 2016
    ...rather it is the filing of a complaint that invokes the juvenile court's jurisdiction. R.C. 2152.021; Juv. R. 2(F) and 10; In re M.W., 133 Ohio St.3d 309, 2012-Ohio-4538, 978 N.E.2d 164, ¶ 21. "Ohio juvenile proceedings do not result in criminal convictions—a juvenile court proceeding ......
  • In re C.M.R., No. 27519
    • United States
    • United States Court of Appeals (Ohio)
    • January 12, 2018
    ...by legal counsel upon the filing of a complaint in juvenile court or upon initial appearance in the juvenile court." In re M.W. , 133 Ohio St.3d 309, 2012-Ohio-4538, 978 N.E.2d 164, ¶ 27. "Thus, the right of a juvenile to counsel pursuant to R.C. 2151.352 attaches when the jurisdi......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
33 cases
  • San Allen, Inc. v. Buehrer, No. 99786.
    • United States
    • United States Court of Appeals (Ohio)
    • May 15, 2014
    ...{¶ 77} “The primary goal in construing a statute is to ascertain and give effect to the intent of the legislature.” In re M.W., 133 Ohio St.3d 309, 2012-Ohio-4538, 978 N.E.2d 164, ¶ 17, citing State v. Hairston, 101 Ohio St.3d 308, 2004-Ohio-969, 804 N.E.2d 471, ¶ 11. We examine the plain l......
  • In re A.G., No. 2014–2190.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Ohio
    • June 9, 2016
    ...it is the filing of a complaint that invokes the juvenile court's jurisdiction. R.C. 2152.021 ; Juv. R. 2(F) and 10 ; In re M.W., 133 Ohio St.3d 309, 2012-Ohio-4538, 978 N.E.2d 164, ¶ 21. "Ohio juvenile proceedings do not result in criminal convictions—a juvenile court proceeding is a civil......
  • In re A.G., No. 2014-2190
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Ohio
    • June 9, 2016
    ...rather it is the filing of a complaint that invokes the juvenile court's jurisdiction. R.C. 2152.021; Juv. R. 2(F) and 10; In re M.W., 133 Ohio St.3d 309, 2012-Ohio-4538, 978 N.E.2d 164, ¶ 21. "Ohio juvenile proceedings do not result in criminal convictions—a juvenile court proceeding is a ......
  • In re C.M.R., No. 27519
    • United States
    • United States Court of Appeals (Ohio)
    • January 12, 2018
    ...by legal counsel upon the filing of a complaint in juvenile court or upon initial appearance in the juvenile court." In re M.W. , 133 Ohio St.3d 309, 2012-Ohio-4538, 978 N.E.2d 164, ¶ 27. "Thus, the right of a juvenile to counsel pursuant to R.C. 2151.352 attaches when the jurisdiction of a......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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