State v. Bates

Decision Date22 February 2022
Docket Number2020-0255
CourtOhio Supreme Court
PartiesThe State of Ohio, Appellee, v. Bates, Appellant.

Submitted March 3, 2021

Appeal from the Court of Appeals for Cuyahoga County, No. 107868 2020-Ohio-267.

Michael C. O'Malley, Cuyahoga County Prosecuting Attorney, and Frank Romeo Zeleznikar, Assistant Prosecuting Attorney, for appellee.

Mark A. Stanton, Cuyahoga County Public Defender, and John T Martin, Assistant Public Defender, for appellant.

Dave Yost, Attorney General, Benjamin M. Flowers, Solicitor General, and Zachery P. Keller, Deputy Solicitor General, urging affirmance for amicus curiae, Attorney General Dave Yost.

O'CONNOR, C.J.

{¶ 1} In this appeal, we consider the application of our recent decisions in State v. Harper, 160 Ohio St.3d 480, 2020-Ohio-2913, 159 N.E.3d 248, and State v. Hudson, 161 Ohio St.3d 166, 2020-Ohio-3849, 161 N.E.3d 608. In 2008, the trial court failed to include in appellant Robert Bates's sentencing entry a statement that postrelease control was mandatory and that a violation of postrelease control would subject him to the consequences set forth in R.C. 2967.28. Ten years later, in 2018, the state brought this error to the trial court's attention and the court issued a new sentencing entry that included the required notification as to the postrelease-control portion of Bates's sentence. Based on this court's previous void-sentence jurisprudence, the Eighth District Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court's 2018 judgment. Subsequent to our acceptance of this appeal, we decided Harper, which overruled the void-sentence jurisprudence on which the court of appeals here relied. See id. at ¶ 5, 40. For the following reasons, we reverse the Eighth District's judgment and vacate the portion of the 2018 sentencing entry imposing postrelease control.

I. Relevant Background

{¶ 2} In October 2008, the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas sentenced Bates to a nine-year prison term for his convictions of kidnapping, rape, and robbery. The trial court held a sentencing hearing; however, the transcript of the hearing was not made part of the record in this appeal. According to Bates, the trial court failed to advise him at the sentencing hearing of the consequences of violating postrelease control. A few days later, the court journalized its sentencing entry. The portion of the entry concerning postrelease control stated: "Post release control is part of this prison sentence for 5 years for the above felony(s) under R.C. 2967.28."

{¶ 3} Bates filed a direct appeal challenging his convictions. Neither Bates nor the state challenged the postrelease-control portion of his sentence on appeal. State v. Bates, 8th Dist. Cuyahoga No. 92323, 2009-Ohio-5819. The Eighth District affirmed Bates's convictions. Id. at ¶ 1. We declined discretionary review. State v. Bates, 124 Ohio St.3d 1509, 2010-Ohio-799, 922 N.E.2d 971.

{¶ 4} In October 2018, ten years after Bates's original sentencing, the trial court held a classification hearing on Bates's sexual-predator status. At this hearing, the prosecutor raised an issue concerning the trial court's 2008 imposition

of postrelease control. The prosecutor explained that he had reviewed the sentencing entry and discovered that the trial court had failed to include in that entry notification of the mandatory nature of postrelease control and notification of the consequences for violating postrelease control. Based on this court's decision in State v. Grimes, 151 Ohio St.3d 19, 2017-Ohio-2927, 85 N.E.3d 700, overruled on other grounds, Harper, 160 Ohio St.3d 480, 2020-Ohio-2913, 159 N.E.3d 248, the prosecutor believed that the court needed to inform Bates of these aspects of postrelease control before his release from prison. Over objection, the court proceeded to advise Bates of his postrelease-control obligations and the consequences of violating postrelease control.

{¶ 5} A few days later, the trial court journalized this information in a new sentencing entry. Specifically, it noted that Bates's sentence included mandatory three- and five-year terms of postrelease control and that if Bates violated his supervision or a condition of postrelease control, the parole board could impose a prison term, as part of his sentence, of up to one-half of the original prison sentence imposed. Bates appealed this entry to the Eighth District.[1]

{¶ 6} On appeal, Bates challenged the postrelease-control portion of the trial court's 2018 sentencing entry. The Eighth District affirmed the sentence. 2020-Ohio-267. Relying on State v. Simpkins, 117 Ohio St.3d 420, 2008-Ohio-1197, 884 N.E.2d 568, and Grimes, the court of appeals concluded that the trial court's 2008 sentencing entry did not validly impose postrelease control, because it failed to indicate that postrelease control was mandatory and it did not incorporate a statement that the Adult Parole Authority ("APA") would administer postrelease control, pursuant to R.C. 2967.28, and that any violation of postrelease control would subject Bates to additional consequences set forth in that statute. Id. at 20- 21. The Eighth District therefore concluded that the postrelease-control portion of Bates's sentence, as imposed in 2008, was void. Id. at 21. But, because Bates had not served his entire prison sentence at that point, the court of appeals also held that "the trial court was permitted to correct the previously defective postrelease control sanction" when it notified Bates of postrelease control at the 2018 hearing and issued the corresponding entry. Id. at 26.

{¶ 7} We accepted Bates's discretionary appeal to address the following proposition of law: "The failure to include a sentence of post-release control when imposing a prison sentence must be corrected on direct appeal and failure to do so precludes supervision on [postrelease control] at the end of the prison sentence." See 158 Ohio St.3d 1450, 2020-Ohio-1090, 141 N.E.3d 976.

II. Analysis

{¶ 8} Bates's proposition of law is two-fold. First, Bates argues that the trial court failed to properly impose postrelease control in 2008, rendering that portion of his sentence voidable and subject to the doctrine of res judicata. He asserts that res judicata precluded the trial court from correcting his sentence in 2018. Second, Bates contends that because the court failed to properly impose the postrelease-control portion of his sentence in 2008, his original sentence never included postrelease control and that this precluded the state from imposing postrelease-control supervision at the end of his prison sentence.

{¶ 9} Our recent decisions in Harper, 160 Ohio St.3d 480, 2020-Ohio-2913, 159 N.E.3d 248, and Hudson, 161 Ohio St.3d 166, 2020-Ohio-3849, 161 N.E.3d 608, resolve the first issue. However, we cannot reach the second issue today based on the facts and arguments before us.

A. Legal background

{¶ 10} R.C. 2967.28(B) requires that prison sentences for certain felonies include a mandatory term of postrelease control to be imposed by the parole board after the offender is released from imprisonment. R.C. 2967.28(B) and (C) identify the length of the term of postrelease-control supervision for each degree of felony. At the sentencing hearing, the court must notify the offender of this mandatory supervision under R.C. 2967.28(B). Former R.C. 2929.19(B)(3)(c).[2] The court also must notify the offender at the sentencing hearing that if he or she "violates that supervision or a condition of post-release control * * *, the parole board may impose a prison term, as part of the sentence, of up to one-half of the stated prison term originally imposed upon the offender." Former R.C. 2929.19(B)(3)(e).

{¶ 11} It is established that "a trial court has a statutory duty to provide notice of postrelease control at the sentencing hearing." State v. Jordan, 104 Ohio St.3d 21, 2004-Ohio-6085, 817 N.E.2d 864, ¶ 23, overruled on other grounds, Harper, 160 Ohio St.3d 480, 2020-Ohio-2913, 159 N.E.3d 248. The trial court must advise the offender at the sentencing hearing of the term of supervision, whether postrelease control is discretionary or mandatory, and the consequences of violating postrelease control. See Grimes, 151 Ohio St.3d 19, 2017-Ohio-2927, 85 N.E.3d 700, at ¶ 11. Among other consequences, an offender's violation of a postrelease-control sanction or condition may result in the APA imposing a prison term on the offender. R.C. 2967.28(F)(3). However, the maximum cumulative prison term for all violations under R.C. 2967.28(F)(3) "shall not exceed one-half of the stated prison term originally imposed. Id.

{ 12} In Grimes, we explained that once the court orally provides all the required advisements at the sentencing hearing, it must then incorporate those advisements into the sentencing entry. Id. at ¶ 8, citing Jordan at ¶ 17. Thus, we held that to validly impose postrelease control when the court provides all the required advisements at the sentencing hearing, the sentencing entry must include:

(1) whether postrelease control is discretionary or mandatory, (2) the duration of the postrelease-control period, and (3) a statement to the effect that the [APA] will administer the postrelease control pursuant to R.C. 2967.28 and that any violation by the offender of the conditions of postrelease control will subject the offender to the consequences set forth in that statute.
Id. at ¶ 1. Prior to this court's decision in Harper, a trial court's failure to validly impose postrelease control rendered the postrelease-control portion of the sentence void and subject to correction at any time before the offender's release from prison. See generally Jordan, 104 Ohio St.3d 21, 2004-Ohio-6085, 817 N.E.2d 864.

{¶ 13} We recently overruled...

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