State ex rel. Dailey v. Dawson, No. 103237.

CourtUnited States Court of Appeals (Ohio)
Writing for the CourtFRANK D. CELEBREZZE, JR., J.
Citation64 N.E.3d 322
Decision Date29 April 2016
Docket NumberNo. 103237.
Parties STATE of Ohio, ex rel., Randolph DAILEY, et al. Relators v. Judge William L. DAWSON, Respondent.

64 N.E.3d 322

STATE of Ohio, ex rel., Randolph DAILEY, et al. Relators
Judge William L. DAWSON, Respondent.

No. 103237.

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Eighth District, Cuyahoga County.

April 29, 2016.

64 N.E.3d 324

William T. McGinty, Henry J. Hilow, McGinty, Hilow & Spellacy Co., L.P.A., Cleveland, OH, for Randolph Dailey.

64 N.E.3d 325

Kevin M. Spellacy, McGinty, Hilow and Spellacy Co., L.P.A., Cleveland, OH, for Patricia Coleman.

Susan Lipphardt Gragel, Goldstein Gragel L.L.C., Cleveland, OH, for Michael Donegan.

David L. Grant, Grant & O'Malley Co. L.P.A., Cleveland, OH, for Jason Edens.

Mark A. Stanton, Short, Shepherd & Stanton, Cleveland, OH, for Paul Wilson.

Timothy J. McGinty, Cuyahoga County Prosecutor by Adam M. Chaloupka, Richard A. Bell, Assistant County Prosecutors, Cleveland, OH, for State of Ohio.

Willa M. Hemmons, Director of Law, Cleveland, OH, Ronald K. Riley, City of East Cleveland, University Heights, OH, for East Cleveland.

George D. Jonson, Montgomery, Rennie & Jonson, Cincinnati, OH, Kimberly Vanover Riley, Montgomery, Rennie & Jonson, Cleveland, OH, for Respondent.


{¶ 1} In this original action, the sole issue before the court is whether respondent Judge William L. Dawson lacks jurisdiction to preside over misdemeanor dereliction of duty complaints that were filed in East Cleveland Municipal Court against relators on July 2, 2015.1 When relators commenced this action on July 8, 2015, they were facing identical misdemeanor charges in the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas pursuant to indictments that had been issued in May 2014.2 The issue in this action is not if the relators will face prosecution on the charges, but where.

{¶ 2} The common pleas court misdemeanor indictments had been pending against relators for over a year and the common pleas court had scheduled trial for July 27, 2015. However, after the same court found codefendant Michael Brelo not guilty in a separate bench trial, the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor's Office announced its intention to pursue prosecution of the charges against relators in the East Cleveland Municipal Court.

{¶ 3} On July 2, 2015, the county prosecutor's office entered an agreement to serve as lead counsel in the prosecution of the criminal complaints that were filed that same day in East Cleveland. On July 3, 2015, each relator was served a summons and complaint that would have required him or her to appear in East Cleveland on July 10, 2015, for arraignment on the exact same misdemeanor charges that were ready for trial in the county common pleas court. Under these circumstances, this court granted relator's alternative writ, stayed the East Cleveland proceedings, and set an expedited briefing schedule.

{¶ 4} Respondent Judge Dawson has answered both the complaint and amended complaint by indicating that he takes no position on his authority or jurisdiction to proceed in the East Cleveland cases. He states that should relators file any motions

64 N.E.3d 326

in the East Cleveland cases, he will rule on them accordingly.

{¶ 5} The county prosecutor and the East Cleveland law director were granted permission to intervene as respondents in this original action and have moved for the dismissal of the complaint and amended complaint. Relators have moved for summary judgment and oppose the dismissal of the amended complaint.

{¶ 6} In addition to the extensive motion practice in this matter, there have been procedural developments in the underlying common pleas court prosecution that include the county prosecutor's motion to dismiss the common pleas court indictments on July 10, 2015, which the trial court granted on July 27, 2015. The parties dispute the validity of the trial court's dismissal. The parties advance numerous competing arguments in support of their respective positions.

{¶ 7} Having thoroughly considered all of the facts, arguments, and law presented for our consideration and that is contained in this record, the writ is granted as detailed below.


I. The Alleged Offense Conduct

{¶ 8} There is no dispute that both the East Cleveland charges and the common pleas court criminal indictments stem from the police pursuit that culminated in the deaths of Malissa Williams and Timothy Russell on November 29, 2012. The parties have submitted evidence that the vehicles traveled through parts of Cleveland and ended in East Cleveland. Both municipalities are located in Cuyahoga County.

II. The Original Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court Cases

{¶ 9} The state initially elected to pursue charges against the relators in the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas where the grand jury returned indictments in May 2014 that joined the misdemeanor charges against relators with felony charges against Michael Brelo. Specifically, relators were each charged with two counts of dereliction of duty in violation of R.C. 2921.44(E) ; both counts constitute misdemeanor offenses.

{¶ 10} In September 2014, the relators moved the trial court to bifurcate their misdemeanor charges from Brelo's felony counts and requested separate trials. The court granted relators' motions for separate trials on September 29, 2014. The charges against Brelo proceeded to trial first. Brelo was found not guilty on May 23, 2015.

{¶ 11} There is no dispute that in June 2015, the county prosecutor indicated that the misdemeanor charges should be tried in the East Cleveland Municipal Court. The common pleas court dockets contain entries dated June 29, 2015, noting that the state expected criminal complaints against relators with the exact same charges to be filed in East Cleveland. However, the same order provides that the common pleas court indictments remained pending and that the trial remained scheduled for July 27, 2015.

III. The East Cleveland Cases

A. The East Cleveland Charges

{¶ 12} On July 2, 2015, complaints were filed in East Cleveland Municipal Court against each relator alleging that he or she violated East Cleveland Municipal Code section 525.12 and R.C. 2921.44(E), dereliction of duty. These charges are identical to charges that were scheduled for trial in Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court on July 27, 2015.

64 N.E.3d 327

B. The Prosecution Agreement

{¶ 13} The same day the East Cleveland complaints were filed, the county prosecutor's office entered into an agreement with the city of East Cleveland. The county prosecutor, the East Cleveland Mayor, and the East Cleveland Law Director executed the agreement. The county prosecutor and the East Cleveland law director submitted a copy of this agreement in support of their motion to intervene in this action.

{¶ 14} The relators opposed intervention based on the alleged invalidity of the agreement. The agreement provides that the county prosecutor will serve as lead counsel in the East Cleveland criminal proceedings against the relators. Although this court granted the county prosecutor and the East Cleveland law director's motion to intervene in this action, this court expressly has not made, and does not make, any determination as to the validity of the agreement entered between these parties and the East Cleveland mayor on July 2, 2015. A declaration regarding the validity or invalidity of the agreement is not pertinent to the jurisdiction of the East Cleveland Municipal Court.

IV. The Complaint and Amended Complaint For Writ of Prohibition

{¶ 15} Facing simultaneous and duplicate charges in the city of East Cleveland and the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas, relators filed a complaint for a writ of prohibition in this court on July 8, 2015. In the original writ, relators alleged that respondent Judge Dawson patently and unambiguously lacked jurisdiction to proceed based on the jurisdictional priority rule. They argued that because the common pleas court's jurisdiction was invoked first, it possessed the exclusive jurisdiction to proceed over the misdemeanor charges.3

{¶ 16} Two days after relators petitioned this court for a writ of prohibition and one day after this court granted the alternative writ and stayed the East Cleveland proceedings, the county prosecutor filed a motion to dismiss the common pleas court indictments. The relators opposed the dismissal of the common pleas court indictments, and the trial court held a hearing. By order dated July 27, 2015, the trial court granted the motion to dismiss the indictments without prejudice. The trial court found that the pendency of the same charges in the East Cleveland Municipal Court provided good cause and that dismissal could only be denied if the state had acted in bad faith by seeking the dismissals. Because the court concluded that the state had not acted in bad faith, the indictments were dismissed without prejudice. The parties agree that the trial court's dismissal was not a final, appealable order and that relators could not have perfected an appeal because this court...

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