State v. Mast, s. 19CA004

CourtUnited States Court of Appeals (Ohio)
Citation2019 Ohio 4644,147 N.E.3d 1271
Docket NumberNos. 19CA004,19CA005,s. 19CA004
Parties STATE of Ohio, Plaintiff-Appellee v. Roy H. MAST, Defendant-Appellant
Decision Date08 November 2019

147 N.E.3d 1271
2019 Ohio 4644

STATE of Ohio, Plaintiff-Appellee
Roy H. MAST, Defendant-Appellant

Nos. 19CA004

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Fifth District, Holmes County.

DATE OF JUDGMENT ENTRY: November 8, 2019


Hoffman, J.

{¶1} Appellant Roy H. Mast appeals the judgment entered by the Holmes County Municipal Court convicting him of obstructing official business ( R.C. 2921.31 ) and driving while under the influence of alcohol ( R.C. 4511.19(A)(1)(a) ) and sentencing him to 200 days in jail with 170 days suspended. Appellee is the state of Ohio.


{¶2} At about 10:00 a.m. on February 7, 2018, Appellant appeared at the Holmes County Sheriff's Department to file a complaint. Lt. Eric Troyer was working at the intake window. He immediately noticed Appellant's speech was slurred, his eyes were glassy and bloodshot, and he had an odor of alcohol about his person.

{¶3} Lt. Troyer told Deputy Terry Byland Appellant was in the lobby wanting to make a report. Dep. Byland came to the lobby to speak with Appellant. Appellant told the deputy he wanted to file a complaint about his ex-landlord threatening to whip him with a bull whip for not scraping manure on a Sunday. The deputy asked for Appellant's driver's license, which Dep. Byland routinely does to get information from a citizen seeking to file a complaint. Appellant fumbled through his wallet before locating the license.

{¶4} Because Dep. Byland is unable to smell, he did not notice the odor of alcohol, although both Lt. Troyer and Lt. Tim

147 N.E.3d 1274

Stryker informed him they noticed the odor of alcohol about Appellant. Dep. Byland noticed Appellant's speech was slurred and his eyes were bloodshot and glassy. Appellant swayed while talking with officers, and at one point had to grab a table for balance. Noting Appellant was alone, Lt. Stryker and Dep. Byland repeatedly asked Appellant how he arrived at the Sheriff's Department. Appellant initially stared at the officers, and did not answer the question. Appellant eventually responded, "Forward." Dep. Byland asked Appellant if he drove there. Appellant responded, "No, I got an airplane waiting on me."

{¶5} Upon further questioning, Appellant admitted consuming alcohol the night before, but denied consuming alcohol that day. The officers asked Appellant to step outside to conduct field sobriety tests. Lt. Stryker pointed to a vehicle in the parking lot and asked if the car was the vehicle Appellant drove to the Sheriff's Department. Appellant eventually admitted he drove to the office, leaving Dresden, Ohio around 8:00 in the morning. He continued to deny drinking or smoking marijuana in the morning, and claimed he had three beers the night before.

{¶6} Appellant refused to perform field sobriety tests and refused to submit to chemical testing. He was arrested for operating a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol. Dep. Byland submitted an affidavit for a search of Appellant's blood, and the warrant was issued.

{¶7} Appellant was charged with one count of obstructing justice, and one count of operating a motor vehicle under the influence. Appellant filed a motion to suppress, which was overruled after hearing. The case proceeded to jury trial in the Holmes County Municipal Court. Appellant was convicted as charged and sentenced to 90 days in the Holmes County Jail with 80 days suspended for obstructing official business, and 180 days in the Holmes County Jail for operating a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol, with 160 days suspended, to be served consecutively.

{¶8} It is from the February 5, 2019 judgment of conviction and sentence Appellant prosecutes this appeal1 , assigning as error:


{¶9} There are three methods of challenging on appeal a trial court's ruling on a motion to suppress. First, an appellant may challenge the trial court's findings of fact. In reviewing a challenge of this nature, an appellate court must determine whether said findings of fact are against the manifest weight of the evidence. State v. Fanning , 1 Ohio St.3d 19, 437 N.E.2d 583 (1982) ; State v. Klein , 73 Ohio App.3d 486, 597 N.E.2d 1141 (1991) ; State v. Guysinger , 86 Ohio App.3d 592, 621 N.E.2d 726 (1993). Second, an appellant may argue the trial court failed to apply the appropriate test or correct law to the findings of fact. In that case, an appellate court can reverse the trial court for committing an error of law. State v. Williams , 86 Ohio App.3d 37, 619 N.E.2d 1141 (1993).

147 N.E.3d 1275

Finally, assuming the trial court's findings of fact are not against the manifest weight of the evidence and it has properly identified the law to be applied, an appellant may argue the trial court has incorrectly decided the ultimate or final issue raised in the motion to suppress. When reviewing this type of claim, an appellate court must independently determine, without deference to the trial court's conclusion, whether the facts meet the appropriate legal standard in any given case. State v. Curry , 95 Ohio App.3d 93, 641 N.E.2d 1172 (1994) ; State v. Claytor , 85 Ohio App.3d 623, 620 N.E.2d 906 (1993) ; Guysinger, supra. As the United States Supreme Court held in Ornelas v. U.S. , 517 U.S. 690, 116 S.Ct. 1657, 1663, 134 L.Ed.2d 911 (1996), "... as a general matter determinations of reasonable suspicion and probable cause should be reviewed de novo on appeal."

{¶10} When ruling on a motion to suppress, the trial court assumes the role of trier of fact and is in the best position to resolve questions of fact and to evaluate the credibility of witnesses. See State v. Dunlap, 73 Ohio St.3d 308, 314, 1995-Ohio-243, 652 N.E.2d 988 ; State v. Fanning , 1 Ohio St.3d 19, 20, 437 N.E.2d 583 (1982).

{¶11} Appellant first argues the court erred in finding the officers had a reasonable suspicion of criminal activity to justify detaining him for further investigation after he filed his complaint.

{¶12} The Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution as applied to the states through the Fourteenth Amendment, as well as Ohio Constitution, Article I, Section 14, prohibit the government from conducting warrantless searches and seizures, rendering them per se unreasonable unless an exception applies. State v. Mendoza , 10th Dist. No. 08AP-645, 2009-Ohio-1182, 2009 WL 690204, ¶ 11, citing Katz v. United States , 389 U.S. 347, 357, 88 S.Ct. 507, 19 L.Ed.2d 576 (1967). However, "not all personal intercourse between policemen and citizens involves ‘seizures’ of persons. Only when the officer, by means of physical force or show of authority, has in some way restrained the liberty of a citizen has a ‘seizure’ occurred" within the meaning of the Fourth Amendment. Terry v. Ohio , 392 U.S. 1, 19, fn. 16, 88 S.Ct. 1868, 20 L.Ed.2d 889 (1968) ; Brendlin v. California , 551 U.S. 249, 254, 127 S.Ct. 2400, 168 L.Ed.2d 132 (2007).

{¶13} In determining whether a particular encounter constitutes a seizure, and thus implicates the Fourth Amendment, the question is whether, in view of all the circumstances surrounding the encounter, a reasonable person would believe he or she was not free to leave, United States v. Mendenhall , 446 U.S. 544, 554, 100 S.Ct. 1870, 64 L.Ed.2d 497 (1980), or "not free to decline the officers' requests or otherwise to terminate the encounter." Florida v. Bostick , 501 U.S. 429, 439, 111 S.Ct. 2382, 115 L.Ed.2d 389 (1991). "[T]he crucial test is whether, taking into account all of the circumstances surrounding the encounter, the police conduct would ‘have communicated to a reasonable person that he was not at liberty to ignore the police presence and go about his business.’ " Id. at 437, 111 S.Ct. 2382.

{¶14} The trial court found Appellant was seized within the meaning of the Fourth Amendment when the officers retained his driver's license, as a reasonable person would not feel free to leave. We agree.

{¶15} A consensual encounter remains consensual even if police officers ask questions, ask to see the person's identification, or ask to search the person's belongings, provided the police do not convey a message that compliance with their requests is required. Id. at 435, 111 S.Ct. 2382 ;

147 N.E.3d 1276

Florida v. Rodriguez , 469 U.S. 1, 4–6, 105 S.Ct. 308, 83 L.Ed.2d 165 (1984) ; Immigration & Naturalization Serv. v. Delgado , 466 U.S. 210, 216, 104 S.Ct. 1758, 80 L.Ed.2d 247 (1984). In Mendenhall , supra, at 554, 100 S.Ct. at 1877, 64 L.Ed.2d at 509, the United States Supreme Court cited examples of circumstances indicating a seizure occurred even where the person did not attempt to leave, including the threatening presence of several officers, the display of a weapon by an officer, some physical touching of the person, or the use of language or tone of voice indicating compliance with the officer's request might be compelled.

{¶16} The Tenth District Court of Appeals has held no reasonable person would feel free to terminate an encounter and go about their business when an officer is holding that individual's...

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