State v. Gideon, 1-18-27

Citation2019 Ohio 2482,130 N.E.3d 357
Decision Date24 June 2019
Docket Number NO. 1-18-28,NO. 1-18-27, NO. 1-18-29,1-18-27
Parties STATE of Ohio, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. James A. GIDEON, Defendant-Appellant. State of Ohio, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. James A. Gideon, Defendant-Appellant. State of Ohio, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. James A. Gideon, Defendant-Appellant.
CourtOhio Court of Appeals

Dennis C. Belli, Columbus, for Appellant

Anthony L. Geiger, Lima, for Appellee


{¶1} Defendant-appellant, James A. Gideon ("Gideon"), appeals the May 11, 2018 judgment entries of sentence of the Lima Municipal Court. For the reasons that follow, we reverse.

{¶2} This case stems from an investigation of Gideon for allegedly inappropriately touching patients in his capacity as a licensed physician. As part of the investigation, Sergeant Tyler Hochstetler ("Sergeant Hochstetler") of the Bluffton Police Department criminally investigated the patient complaints, while Investigator Chad Yoakam ("Investigator Yoakam") of the State Medical Board pursued an administrative investigation for possible violations of the statutes and rules governing the practice of medicine.

{¶3} Sergeant Hochstetler and Investigator Yoakam agreed "to cooperate with each other" by trading information during the course of their investigations. (Oct. 13, 2017 Tr. at 51-52). According to Investigator Yoakam, it is advantageous for state investigators to cooperate with law enforcement under "what they call a bootstrap on a criminal case" because proving an administrative-sanction case is easier "from a criminal conviction" as opposed to "through witness testimony." (Id. at 15-16). Thus, Investigator Yoakam met with Sergeant Hochstetler "to determine how [he] was going to proceed with the criminal case." (Id. at 15). After learning from Sergeant Hochstetler that Gideon denied the patients' allegations to Sergeant Hochstetler, Investigator Yoakam informed Sergeant Hochstetler that he was going to interview Gideon himself. Importantly, Investigator Yoakam warned Sergeant Hochstetler against participating in his interview with Gideon—because Gideon was statutorily obligated to cooperate with his investigation—so that any confession could be used in a criminal proceeding against Gideon. (See Oct. 13, 2017 Tr. at 28-29, 55-56); (Defendant's Ex. 4).

{¶4} In accordance with that agreement, Investigator Yoakam arrived unannounced at Gideon's medical office and asked Gideon "if he would have a few minutes to chat with" him to which Gideon—who was aware of his duty to cooperate with Investigator Yoakam's investigation—responded that he did. (Aug. 22, 2017 Tr. at 5). Commensurate with his duty to cooperate and provide truthful answers to Investigator Yoakam's questions, Gideon provided Investigator Yoakam with an oral and written statement. Thereafter, Investigator Yoakam immediately shared the information from his interview of Gideon with law enforcement "because the doctor had [ ] an interview with [law enforcement] where he denied any impropriety so I wanted to tell [law enforcement] what happened during [his] interview." (Oct. 13, 2017 Tr. at 26-27).

{¶5} On May 26, 2017, three complaints were filed in the Lima Municipal Court, each charging Gideon with sexual imposition in violation of R.C. 2907.06(A)(1), third-degree misdemeanors. (Case No. 17CRB01385, Doc. No. 3); (Case No. 17CRB01386, Doc. No. 3); (Case No. 17CRB01387, Doc. No. 3). The complaints were assigned case numbers 17CRB01385, 17CRB01386, and 17CRB01387, respectively. (Id. ); (Id. ); (Id. ). Gideon appeared for arraignment and entered pleas of not guilty on June 6, 2017. (Case No. 17CRB01385, Doc. No. 7); (Case No. 17CRB01386, Doc. No. 7); (Case No. 17CRB01387, Doc. No. 7).

{¶6} On July 5, 2017, Gideon filed a motion to suppress evidence. (Case No. 17CRB01385, Doc. No. 10); (Case No. 17CRB01386, Doc. No. 12); (Case No. 17CRB01387, Doc. No. 11). Specifically, Gideon requested that "his written and recorded statements given during an interrogation conducted by [Investigator Yoakam]" be suppressed because "the statements were involuntary and elicited in violation of [Gideon's] right to Due Process and the Privilege against Self-Incrimination guaranteed under the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution and Article I, Section 10 of the Ohio Constitution." (Id. ); (Id. ); (Id. ). After the conclusion of suppression hearings on August 22, 2017 and October 13, 2017, the trial court determined that Gideon "made voluntary statements during a noncustodial interview" and denied the motion to suppress his statements. (Case No. 17CRB01385, Doc. Nos. 12, 14, 17); (Case No. 17CRB01386, Doc. Nos. 14, 17); (Case No. 17CRB01387, Doc. No. 12, 14). (See also Case No. 17CRB01385, Doc. Nos. 14, 15, 16).

{¶7} On February 6, 2018, the State filed a motion to join case numbers 17CRB01385, 17CRB01386, 17CRB01387. (Case No. 17CRB01385, Doc. No. 18).1 Gideon filed a memorandum in opposition to the State's joinder request on February 23, 2018. (Case No. 17CRB01385, Doc. No. 20). The trial court granted the State's motion on April 9, 2018 and joined all of the cases for trial. (Case No. 17CRB01385, Doc. No. 27A); (Case No. 17CRB01386, Doc. No. 18A); (Case No. 17CRB01387, Doc. No. 15A). (See Case No. 17CRB01385, Doc. Nos. 21, 25, 27). (See also Case No. 17CRB01385, Doc. No. 22).

{¶8} The cases proceeded to a jury trial on April 18-20, 2018. (Apr. 18, 2018 Tr., Vol. I, at 1); (Apr. 19, 2018 Tr., Vol. II, at 1); (Apr. 20, 2018 Tr., Vol. III, at 1). The jury found Gideon guilty of the sexual-imposition charge in case number 17CRB01385, 17CRB01386, and 17CRB01387, respectively. (Case No. 17CRB01385, Doc. No. 42); (Case No. 17CRB01386, Doc. No. 22); (Case No. 17CRB01387, Doc. No. 19).

{¶9} On May 11, 2018, the trial court sentenced Gideon to 60 days in jail in case number 17CRB01385, 60 days in jail in case number 17CRB01386, and 60 days in jail in case number 17CRB01387. (Case No. 17CRB01385, Doc. No. 45); (Case No. 17CRB01386, Doc. No. 25); (Case No. 17CRB01387, Doc. No. 22). The jail terms imposed were ordered to be served consecutively for an aggregate sentence of 180 days in jail. (Id. ); (Id. ); (Id. ). The trial court also classified Gideon as a Tier I sex offender. (Id. ); (Id. ); (Id. ).

{¶10} Gideon filed his notice of appeal on May 11, 2018, and raises four assignments of error for our review. (Case No. 17CRB01385, Doc. No. 46); (Case No. 17CRB01386, Doc. No. 26); (Case No. 17CRB01387, Doc. No. 23). Because it is dispositive, we address only Gideon's first assignment of error.

Assignment of Error No. I
The Denial of Defendant-Appellant's Motion to Suppress His Oral and Written Statements to the Medical Board Investigator and the Admission of Those Statements in the State's Case-In-Chief Violated His Rights Under the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution and Article I, Section 10 of the Ohio Constitution. (Apx.A-7)

{¶11} In his first assignment of error, Gideon argues that the trial court erred by denying his motion to suppress oral and written statements that he made to Investigator Yoakam as evidence. In particular, Gideon contends that the trial court erred by concluding that his belief that his statements were coerced was objectively unreasonable under the circumstances. In making that determination, Gideon argues that the trial court "failed to consider the degree to which [Investigator] Yoakam's disciplinary investigation was intertwined with the police department's criminal investigation." (Appellant's Brief at 8).2

Standard of Review

{¶12} A review of the denial of a motion to suppress involves mixed questions of law and fact. State v. Burnside , 100 Ohio St.3d 152, 2003-Ohio-5372, 797 N.E.2d 71, ¶ 8. At a suppression hearing, the trial court assumes the role of trier of fact and, as such, is in the best position to evaluate the evidence and the credibility of witnesses. Id. See also State v. Carter , 72 Ohio St.3d 545, 552, 651 N.E.2d 965 (1995). When reviewing a ruling on a motion to suppress, "an appellate court must accept the trial court's findings of fact if they are supported by competent, credible evidence." Burnside at ¶ 8, citing State v. Fanning , 1 Ohio St.3d 19, 437 N.E.2d 583 (1982). With respect to the trial court's conclusions of law, however, our standard of review is de novo, and we must independently determine whether the facts satisfy the applicable legal standard. Id. , citing State v. McNamara , 124 Ohio App.3d 706, 707 N.E.2d 539 (4th Dist.1997).

Due Process Voluntariness

{¶13} First, we will address Gideon's argument that his pre-trial statements "were procured in violation of his right to due process * * *." (Appellant's Brief at 5). Separate from the consideration of whether a defendant's statements should be suppressed under the Fifth Amendment's self-incrimination privilege, is the consideration of whether the defendant's statements were voluntary. See, e.g. , Oregon v. Elstad , 470 U.S. 298, 304, 105 S.Ct. 1285, 84 L.Ed.2d 222 (1985) ("Prior to Miranda , the admissibility of an accused's in-custody statements was judged solely by whether they were ‘voluntary’ within the meaning of the Due Process Clause."); State v. Jenkins , 15 Ohio St.3d 164, 231, 473 N.E.2d 264 (1984) (noting that "due process provisions of the federal Constitution dictate that the state must meet by a preponderance of the evidence its burden of proving that any inculpatory statement was made voluntarily"); State v. Tussing , 3d Dist. Logan No. 8-10-11, 2011-Ohio-1727, 2011 WL 7701426, ¶ 32 (stating that "the Due Process Clause requires an inquiry regarding the voluntariness of a defendant's confession, which is a separate inquiry from the considerations regarding whether a defendant is subject to a custodial interrogation"), citing State v. Petitjean , 140 Ohio App.3d 517, 526, 748 N.E.2d 133 (2d Dist.2000), citing Dickerson v. United States , 530 U.S. 428, 434, 120 S.Ct. 2326, 147...

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