State v. Moran

Decision Date11 October 2022
Docket NumberS. 2020-L-114,2020-L-115,2020-L-116,2020-L-117
Citation198 N.E.3d 922
Parties STATE of Ohio, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. Joey L. MORAN, Defendant-Appellant.
CourtOhio Court of Appeals

Charles E. Coulson, Lake County Prosecutor, and Teri R. Daniel, Assistant Prosecutor, Lake County Administration Building, 105 Main Street, P.O. Box 490, Painesville, OH 44077 (For Plaintiff-Appellee).

Vanessa R. Clapp, Lake County Public Defender, and Melissa A. Blake, Assistant Public Defender, 125 East Erie Street, Painesville, OH 44077 (For Defendant-Appellant).

OPINION

THOMAS R. WRIGHT, P.J.

{¶1} Appellant, Joey L. Moran, appeals the trial court's October 21, 2020 sentencing entry. On remand from the Supreme Court of Ohio, we affirm.

I. Introduction

{¶2} In State v. Moran , 11th Dist. Lake Nos. 2020-L-114, et seq. , 2021-Ohio-1987, 2021 WL 2414394 (" Moran I "), this court affirmed Moran's convictions in four cases. Thereafter, we certified a conflict with respect to our holding that Moran's challenges to the Reagan Tokes Law were not ripe for review. Subsequently, the Supreme Court of Ohio decided State v. Maddox , 168 Ohio St.3d 292, 2022-Ohio-764, 198 N.E.3d 797, in which it concluded that such challenges are ripe for review, and it reversed Moran I for further proceedings consistent with Maddox . In re Cases Held for the Decision in State v. Maddox , 167 Ohio St.3d 409, 2022-Ohio-1352, 193 N.E.3d 553.

{¶3} In Moran I , Moran raised the following constitutional challenges to the Reagan Tokes Law in his second through fifth assigned errors, as follow:

[2.] The defendant-appellant's indeterminate prison sentence of four to six years in trial court Case No. 19 CR 001300, which was ordered pursuant to the Reagan Tokes Act,’ aka Senate Bill 201, must be rever[s]ed as the Reagan Tokes Act is unconstitu[t]ionally void for vagueness.
[3.] The defendant-appellant's indeterminate prison sentence of four to six years in trial court Case No. 19 CR 001300, which was ordered pursuant to the Reagan Tokes Act,’ aka Senate Bill 201, must be rever[s]ed as the Reagan Tokes Act unconstitutionally violates the separation of powers.
[4.] The defendant-appellant's indeterminate prison sentence of four to six years in trial court Case Number 19 CR 001300, which was ordered pursuant to the Reagan Tokes Act,’ aka Senate Bill 201, violates his constitutional right to trial by jury as guaranteed by the Sixth and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution and Article I, Section 5 of the Ohio Constitution.
[5.] The defendant-appellant's indeterminate prison sentence of four to six years in trial court Case Number 19 CR 001300 which was ordered pursuant to the Reagan Tokes Act,’ aka Senate Bill 201, violates his constitutional rights to fair trial and due process as guaranteed by the Fifth, Sixth and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution and Article I, Sections 5 & 10 of the Ohio Constitution.

{¶4} Initially, we note that the constitutionality of the Reagan Tokes Law has been addressed by other Ohio appellate courts, each of which has declared that the sentencing scheme does not facially violate an inmate's constitutional rights. See, e.g., State v. Barnes , 2d Dist. Montgomery No. 28613, 2020-Ohio-4150, 2020 WL 4919780 ; State v. Hacker , 2020-Ohio-5048, 161 N.E.3d 112 (3d Dist.) ; State v. Bontrager , 2022-Ohio-1367, 188 N.E.3d 607 (4th Dist.) ; State v. Ratliff , 2022-Ohio-1372, 190 N.E.3d 684 (5th Dist.) ; State v. Maddox , 2022-Ohio-1350, 188 N.E.3d 682 (6th Dist.) ; State v. Delvallie , 2022-Ohio-470, 185 N.E.3d 536 (8th Dist.) (en banc); State v. Guyton , 12th Dist. Butler No. CA2019-12-203, 2020-Ohio-3837, 2020 WL 4279793. The issue is currently pending before the Supreme Court of Ohio. See, e.g., State v. Hacker , Sup. Ct. Case No. 2020-1496, and State v. Simmons , Sup. Ct. Case No. 2021-0532.

II. Standard of Review

{¶5} We review the constitutionality of a statute de novo, i.e., independently and without deference to the trial court's decision.

State v. Jenson , 11th Dist. Lake No. 2005-L-193, 2006-Ohio-5169, 2006 WL 2796284, ¶ 5. "An enactment of the General Assembly is presumed to be constitutional, and before a court may declare it unconstitutional it must appear beyond a reasonable doubt that the legislation and constitutional provisions are clearly incompatible." State ex rel. Dickman v. Defenbacher , 164 Ohio St. 142, 128 N.E.2d 59 (1955), paragraph one of the syllabus; State v. Romage , 138 Ohio St.3d 390, 2014-Ohio-783, 7 N.E.3d 1156, ¶ 7 ("enactments of the General Assembly enjoy a strong presumption of constitutionality"). "This means that courts must avoid an unconstitutional construction where it is reasonably possible to do so." Jenson at ¶ 5, citing United Air Lines, Inc. v. Porterfield , 28 Ohio St.2d 97, 100, 276 N.E.2d 629 (1971). "Further, the party challenging the statute bears the burden of proving the unconstitutionality of the statute beyond a reasonable doubt." Woods v. Telb , 89 Ohio St.3d 504, 511, 733 N.E.2d 1103 (2000), citing State v. Thompkins , 75 Ohio St.3d 558, 560, 664 N.E.2d 926 (1996).

{¶6} A party may challenge a statute as unconstitutional as applied to a particular set of facts or, as here, on its face. Harrold v. Collier , 107 Ohio St.3d 44, 2005-Ohio-5334, 836 N.E.2d 1165, ¶ 37. "A facial challenge to a statute is the most difficult to bring successfully because the challenger must establish that there exists no set of circumstances under which the statute would be valid. The fact that a statute might operate unconstitutionally under some plausible set of circumstances is insufficient to render it wholly invalid." Id. , citing United States v. Salerno , 481 U.S. 739, 745, 107 S.Ct. 2095, 95 L.Ed.2d 697 (1987).

III. The Reagan Tokes Law

{¶7} The Reagan Tokes Law, effective as of March 22, 2019, implemented a system of indefinite sentencing for non-life felonies of the first and second degree committed on or after the effective date. Pursuant to the Reagan Tokes Law, a sentencing court imposing a prison term under R.C. 2929.14(A)(1)(a) or (2)(a) is required to order a minimum prison term under that provision and a maximum prison term as determined by R.C. 2929.144(B).

{¶8} "Of the many changes to Ohio's criminal sentencing scheme that were brought about by the Reagan Tokes Law, the change that is most pertinent to our present discussion centers around R.C. 2967.271(B) - (F), which permits prison authorities within the executive branch to hold defendants in confinement during the indefinite portion of their sentence for conduct that violates prison rules and regulations." State v. Eaton , 6th Dist., 2022-Ohio-2432, 192 N.E.3d 1236, ¶ 13.

{¶9} R.C. 2967.271(B) sets forth a "presumption that the person shall be released from service of the sentence on the expiration of the offender's minimum prison term or on the offender's presumptive earned early release date, whichever is earlier." R.C. 2967.271(C) provides that the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction ("ODRC") may rebut the presumption for release if it holds a hearing and determines that any of the three enumerated factors, discussed below, are applicable. If the ODRC rebuts the presumption for release, R.C. 2967.271(D)(1) provides that the ODRC may "maintain" the offender in confinement for a "reasonable period," which "shall not exceed the offender's maximum prison term." R.C. 2967.271(E) provides that the ODRC "shall provide notices of hearings to be conducted under division (C) or (D) of this section in the same manner, and to the same persons" as it provides for the possible release of inmates on parole. Finally, R.C. 2967.271(F) permits the director of the ODRC to recommend a reduction in the offender's minimum prison term (except for sexually oriented offense convictions), which creates a presumption in favor of the reduction that may be rebutted by the prosecutor at a hearing before the sentencing court.

{¶10} Although indefinite sentencing has previously been utilized as the law in Ohio for first- and second-degree felonies, the presumptive release date is novel to the Reagan Tokes Law. See State v. Wolfe , 5th Dist. Licking No. 2020CA00021, 2020-Ohio-5501, 2020 WL 7054428, ¶ 56 (Gwin, J., dissenting), citing State v. Davis, 9th Dist. Summit No. 13092, 1987 WL 25743 (Nov. 25, 1987), citing former R.C. 2929.11, and State v. Jenks, 2d Dist. Montgomery No. 10264, 1987 WL 20267 (Nov. 16, 1987), citing former R.C. 2929.1.

IV. Due Process Arguments

{¶11} Here, in his second and fifth assigned errors, Moran maintains that the Reagan Tokes Law is void for vagueness and violates his constitutional rights to fair trial and due process, respectively. These are facial challenges to the constitutionality of the enactment, thereby placing the burden on Moran to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that there is no set of circumstances under which the Reagan Tokes Law would be constitutional.

V. Due Process Rights

{¶12} "The touchstone of due process is protection of the individual against arbitrary action of government." (Citation omitted.) Wolff v. McDonnell , 418 U.S. 539, 558, 94 S.Ct. 2963, 41 L.Ed.2d 935 (1974).

{¶13} The Due Process Clause in the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution provides: "No State shall * * * deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law * * *." The Due Course of Law Clause in Article I, Section 16 of the Ohio Constitution provides: "All courts shall be open, and every person, for an injury done him in his land, goods, person, or reputation, shall have remedy by due course of law, and shall have justice administered without denial or delay." The two clauses are coextensive and provide equivalent due process protections. State v. Aalim , 150 Ohio St.3d 489, 2017-Ohio-2956, 83 N.E.3d 883, ¶ 15 ; State v. Anderson , 148 Ohio St.3d 74, 2016-Ohio-5791, 68 N.E.3d 790, ¶ 21. We can therefore rely on decisions of both the United...

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    • United States
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    • May 15, 2023
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