State v. Joel Patterson

Decision Date22 May 1998
Docket Number98-LW-3583,96-T-5439
PartiesSTATE OF OHIO, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. JOEL PATTERSON, JR., Defendant-Appellant. CASE
CourtOhio Court of Appeals

Criminal Appeal from the Court of Common Pleas Case No. 96 CR 2

HON DONALD R. FORD, P.J., HON. JUDITH A. CHRISTLEY, J., HON WILLIAM M. O'NEILL, J.

DENNIS WAKINS, TRUMBULL COUNTY PROSECUTOR, LUWAYNE ANNOS, ASSISTANT COUNTY PROSECUTOR, Administration Building, Thrid Floor, 160 High Street, N.W. Warren, OH 44481, For Plaintiff-Appellee

ATTY MICHAEL A. PARTLOW, The Burgess Building, #400, 1406 West Sixth Street, Cleveland, OH 44113, For Defendant-Appellant

OPINION

CHRISTLEY J.

This appeal is taken from a final judgment of the Trumbull County Court of Common Pleas. Appellant, Joel Patterson, Jr. appeals his conviction for attempted murder in violation of R.C. 2923.02 and 2903.02 following a trial by jury.

The events that culminated in the prosecution of appellant for attempted murder took place on December 15, 1996. During the evening, James H. Thomas, III ("Thomas"), stopped at an establishment called the Elks Lounge in Warren, Ohio. His parents, James H. Thomas, Jr. and Cheryl Thomas, were already at the Elks Lounge. Upon entering the bar, Thomas saw his father engaged in an argument with Darren Caffie ("Caffie"). Caffie is appellant's cousin.

Thomas intervened and advised his father to ignore Caffie. As the argument between Thomas' father and Caffie ended, however, appellant approached Thomas. Appellant and Thomas then proceeded to exchange words. Their heated conversation culminated with a fistfight breaking out in which Thomas struck appellant several times in the face. Other patrons in the bar quickly stepped in and stopped the fight between Thomas and appellant. Thomas was escorted from the bar into the parking lot. After receiving some treatment for lacerations to his face, appellant also left the bar along with Caffie.

Thomas remained in the immediate vicinity of the Elks Lounge following the fight. He was seated in his truck which was parked directly across the street from the bar. Thomas' parents were still inside the Elks Lounge, and he was waiting for them to exit so they could leave together. As he waited, Thomas witnessed appellant and Caffie drive away from the bar.

Approximately fifteen minutes later, Thomas saw appellant and Caffie return in their vehicle at the same time that Thomas' parents exited the Elks Lounge. Appellant and Caffie got out of the vehicle, and an argument immediately ensued between Caffie and Thomas' father. Appellant was standing alongside Caffie as the altercation between Caffie and Thomas' father commenced. Upon seeing this, Thomas jumped out of his truck and ran to assist his father. As Thomas reached the spot where the group was standing, shots rang out. Thomas was shot twice in the chest, twice in the back, and once in the right wrist. He fell to the ground at his parents' feet. His mother and father tried to stem the flow of blood from the various wounds as emergency help was summoned.

Officers from the Warren Township Police Department responded to the report of the shooting within minutes. Among the police officers were Sergeant Edward Anthony ("Sergeant Anthony") and Lieutenant Donald Bishop ("Lieutenant Bishop"). Before the ambulance arrived, both of them spoke to Thomas as he lay bleeding in the parking lot. Thomas separately told Sergeant Anthony and Lieutenant Bishop that appellant was the man who shot him. By that time, however, appellant had disappeared from the scene.

Although seriously wounded, Thomas was rushed to a local hospital and underwent emergency surgery that enabled him to survive the attack. The police subsequently arrested appellant for the attempted murder of Thomas. Appellant waived his preliminary hearing in the Warren Municipal Court before being bound over to the trial court.

Thereafter, the Trumbull County Grand Jury indicted appellant on one count of attempted murder in violation of R.C. 2923.02 and 2903.02. The indictment also included a firearm specification under R.C. 2941.141 and a prior offense of violence specification under R.C. 2941.142.[1]

The case proceeded to a jury trial that commenced on March 11, 1996. The state presented the testimony of various witnesses, including Thomas, Thomas' father, Thomas' mother, Sergeant Anthony, and Lieutenant Bishop. Although the defense called several witnesses to the stand, appellant did not testify on his own behalf. Following the close of all the evidence and arguments, the jury returned a guilty verdict on March 14, 1996 to the charge of attempted murder with the firearm specification.

The trial court conducted a sentencing hearing on March 15, 1996. The trial court sentenced appellant to fifteen to twenty-five years in the Lorain Correctional Institute for the attempted murder conviction. On the firearm specification, appellant received an additional three-year prison term to be served consecutively to the sentence for attempted murder.

From this judgment, appellant timely filed an appeal with this court in which he asserts the following assignments of error:

"[1.] Warren Municipal Court lacked subject matter jurisdiction to bind defendant over to grand jury.
"[2.] Defendant was convicted of the crime of attempted murder upon an indictment which did not charge defendant with the crime of attempted murder or give notice to defendant of all essential elements of the crime of attempted murder.
"[3.] Failing to grant motion for mistrial was abuse of discretion.
"[4.] Defendant was denied the effective assistance of counsel in violation of the Ohio Constitution, Article [sic] 1 & 10, and the Sixth Amendment of the United States Constitution when counsel:
"A. Failed to file motion to dismiss the complaint;
"B. Advised defendant to waive preliminary hearing;
"C. [Failed to] [f]ile motion to quash or dismiss the indictment;
"D. [Failed to] [o]bject to jury instructions;
"E. Failed to adequately prepare for trial and call any witnesses to support their defense that it was not the defendant who shot the victim.
"[5.] The trial court erred, to the prejudice of the appellant, by permitting into evidence hearsay testimony wherein the victim identified the appellant as his assailant.
"[6.] The trial court committed plain, reversible error by permitting the state to employ the grand jury testimony of one of the trial witnesses in order to improperly attack the character of the appellant.
"[7.] The trial court committed plain, reversible error by providing instructions to the jury concerning the elements of 'attempted murder' which were extremely confusing.
"[8.] The appellant's conviction was against the manifest weight of the evidence."

In his first assignment of error, appellant maintains that the Warren Municipal Court lacked subject-matter jurisdiction to bind him over to the trial court. This argument is premised upon appellant's contention that the complaint charging him with attempted murder was defective under the provisions of Crim.R. 3.

In a felony prosecution, the complaint is the initial charging instrument by which the accused is informed of the offense with which he or she is being charged. Crim.R. 3 governs complaints in Ohio. It provides: "The complaint is a written statement of the essential facts constituting the offense charged. It shall also state the numerical designation of the applicable statute or ordinance. It shall be made upon oath before any person authorized by law to administer oaths."

There are three requirements, therefore, for a complaint to be valid under Crim.R. 3. First, the complaint must set forth a written statement of the facts that constitute the essential elements of the offense charged. The essential elements of a given offense are those facts which must be proven to obtain a conviction of the accused. The complainant does not need to have personal knowledge of the facts stated in the complaint, but rather must only have reasonable grounds to believe that the defendant committed the crime charged. The second requirement is that the complaint must state the numerical designation of the Revised Code section or municipal ordinance which the defendant allegedly violated. Finally, the third requirement is that the complaint must be made under oath before any person authorized by law to administer oaths.

Crim.R. 3 does not distinguish between complaints and affidavits. Rather, it uses the word "complaint" to describe both. Under R.C. 2935.09, a police officer or a private citizen may employ either of two methods "in order to cause the arrest or prosecution of a person charged with committing an offense[.]" First, the complainant may allege that an offense has been committed by filing an affidavit with a judge, clerk of court of record, or magistrate. Second, the complainant may file such an affidavit with a prosecuting attorney. See, generally, R.C. 2935.17 (providing model forms for an affidavit and a complaint). See, also, Forms I and II in the Appendix of Forms attached to the Ohio Rules of Criminal Procedure. In the former scenario, the affidavit is the charging instrument and, in effect, becomes the complaint. Under the latter scenario, the prosecuting attorney files a formal complaint and attaches the affidavit thereto. See 2 Katz & Giannelli, Criminal Law (1996) 2-3, Section 35.3.

In the case sub judice, the issue is whether the complaint filed against appellant was made under oath. The filing of a valid complaint is a necessary prerequisite to a trial court's acquisition of subject-matter jurisdiction. The failure to present a properly sworn affidavit can, therefore be a defect that deprives a trial court of subject-matter jurisdiction. New Albany v....

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