State v. Patrick, 122220 OHSC, 2019-0655

Docket Nº:2019-0655
Opinion Judge:O'CONNOR, C.J.
Party Name:The State of Ohio, Appellee, v. Patrick, Appellant.
Attorney:Paul J. Gains, Mahoning County Prosecuting Attorney, and Ralph M. Rivera, Assistant Prosecuting Attorney, for appellee. John B. Juhasz, for appellant. Dave Yost, Attorney General, Benjamin M. Flowers, Solicitor General, and Diane R. Brey, Deputy Solicitor General, urging affirmance for amicus cur...
Judge Panel:French and Stewart, JJ., concur. Donnelly, J., concurs, with an opinion. Kennedy, J., concurs in part and dissents in part, with an opinion joined by DeWine, J. Fischer, J., concurs in part II(A) and dissents from parts II(B) and III. Donnelly, J., concurring. Kennedy, J., concurring in part and ...
Case Date:December 22, 2020
Court:Supreme Court of Ohio

2020-Ohio-6803

The State of Ohio, Appellee,

v.

Patrick, Appellant.

No. 2019-0655

Supreme Court of Ohio

December 22, 2020

Submitted July 8, 2020

Appeal from the Court of Appeals for Mahoning County, No. 17 MA 0091, 2019-Ohio-1189.

Paul J. Gains, Mahoning County Prosecuting Attorney, and Ralph M. Rivera, Assistant Prosecuting Attorney, for appellee.

John B. Juhasz, for appellant.

Dave Yost, Attorney General, Benjamin M. Flowers, Solicitor General, and Diane R. Brey, Deputy Solicitor General, urging affirmance for amicus curiae, Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost.

Timothy Young, Ohio Public Defender, and Brooke M. Burns, Assistant Public Defender; and Juvenile Law Center, Marsha L. Levick, and Andrew R. Keats, urging reversal for amici curiae, Office of the Ohio Public Defender, Juvenile Law Center, Inc., Central Juvenile Defender Center, Children's Law Center, Cuyahoga County Public Defender's Office, National Juvenile Defender Center, and Schubert Center for Child Studies.

O'CONNOR, C.J.

{¶ 1} In this discretionary appeal, we consider whether R.C. 2953.08(D)(3) precludes an appellate court from reviewing a sentence imposed by a trial court for aggravated murder when a defendant raises a constitutional claim regarding that sentence on appeal. We hold that R.C. 2953.08(D)(3) does not preclude an appellate court from doing so.

{¶ 2} Because we conclude that the statute does not preclude an appeal of a sentence on constitutional grounds, we must also determine whether a trial court's imposition of a life-imprisonment sentence with parole eligibility upon a juvenile offender, without consideration of the offender's youth as a mitigating factor, violates the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution and Article I, Section 9 of the Ohio Constitution. We hold that, consistent with our decision in State v. Long, 138 Ohio St.3d 478, 2014-Ohio-849, 8 N.E.3d 890, a trial court must separately consider the youth of a juvenile offender as a mitigating factor before imposing a life sentence under R.C. 2929.03, even if that sentence includes eligibility for parole.

I. RELEVANT BACKGROUND

{¶ 3} Appellant, Kyle Patrick, was charged in the Mahoning County Juvenile Court with offenses stemming from the fatal shooting of Michael Abinghanem that occurred in April 2012, when Patrick was 17 years old. The facts of Patrick's offenses are not relevant for the purposes of resolving this appeal but are set forth in the decision of the Seventh District Court of Appeals below, 2019-Ohio-1189, ¶ 6, 29-36.

{¶ 4} Patrick was bound over to be tried as an adult in the Mahoning County Court of Common Pleas. He was indicted on one count of aggravated murder in violation of R.C. 2903.01(B), one count of aggravated robbery in violation of R.C. 2911.01(A)(1), one count of tampering with evidence in violation of R.C. 2921.12(A)(1), and two firearm specifications pursuant to R.C. 2941.145(A). On February 10, 2014, Patrick pleaded guilty to one count of murder with a one-year firearm specification, one count of aggravated robbery with a one-year firearm specification, and tampering with evidence.

{¶ 5} Prior to sentencing, Patrick moved to withdraw his guilty plea. The trial court denied the motion and on June 19, 2014, the court sentenced Patrick to an aggregate sentence of life imprisonment with parole eligibility after 16 years. His sentence consisted of life imprisonment with parole eligibility after 15 years for the murder offense, to be served consecutively to the 1-year prison sentence for the firearm specifications, and 11 years in prison for the aggravated-robbery offense and 3 years in prison for the tampering-with-evidence offense, to be served concurrently with the other sentences.

{¶ 6} Patrick appealed the trial court's judgment denying his motion to withdraw his guilty plea to the Seventh District, which reversed the trial court's judgment and remanded the matter for further proceedings. State v. Patrick, 2016-Ohio-3283, 66 N.E.3d 169 (7th Dist). Following a jury trial on the original charges, the jury found Patrick guilty on all counts: aggravated murder, aggravated robbery, tampering with evidence, and the firearm specifications.

{¶ 7} The trial court merged the aggravated-robbery conviction and its accompanying firearm specification with the aggravated-murder conviction and its accompanying firearm specification. The trial court then sentenced Patrick to life imprisonment with parole eligibility after 30 years for the aggravated-murder offense, plus a consecutive, mandatory 3-year prison term for the firearm specification. The court also sentenced Patrick to 3 years in prison for the tampering-with-evidence offense, to run concurrently with the other sentences. Thus, the trial court ordered Patrick to serve life in prison with parole eligibility after 33 years. The court stated in its sentencing entry that it had "considered the record, oral statements, as well as the principles and purposes of sentencing under Ohio Revised Code Section 2929.11, and ha[d] balanced the seriousness and recidivism factors of Ohio Revised Code Section 2929.12."

{¶ 8} On appeal to the Seventh District, Patrick argued that the trial court had failed to consider his youth when it imposed a life sentence and therefore his sentence violated the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution and Article 1, Section 9 of the Ohio Constitution. The court of appeals rejected this argument, concluding that Patrick's sentence was distinguishable from those at issue in decisions of the United States Supreme Court considering Eighth Amendment challenges by juvenile offenders, because Patrick would be eligible for parole after 33 years. 2019-Ohio-1189 at ¶ 15. The Seventh District also concluded, "Pursuant to R.C. 2929.12, a trial court is not required to consider the age of a defendant when issuing a felony sentence. While R.C. 2929.12(C) and (E) provide that 'any other relevant factors' should be considered, the statute itself does not mandate the sentencing court to consider the defendant's age." Id. at ¶ 16. As a result, the Seventh District affirmed the trial court's judgment. Id. at ¶ 13, 15-19.

{¶ 9} This court accepted discretionary review of Patrick's first proposition of law: Imposition of any life imprisonment sentence upon a juvenile offender without taking into consideration factors commanded by the Eighth and Fourteenth amendments to the United States Constitution and Article I, Section 10 of the Constitution of Ohio violates those provisions.

See 156 Ohio St.3d 1463, 2019-Ohio-2892, 126 N.E.3d 1167.

{¶ 10} This court held oral argument on April 28, 2020. On May 1, 2020, we sua sponte ordered supplemental briefing on the following issues: "The effect, if any, of R.C. 2953.08(D)(3) on this court's and the court of appeals' ability to review appellant's sentence. The parties should address whether that provision denies either court subject-matter jurisdiction and, if not, whether it otherwise limits the scope of the appeal here or in the court of appeals." 158 Ohio St 3d 1494, 2020-Ohio-2746, 144 N.E.3d 428.

II. ANALYSIS

{¶ 11} We first address the subject of our supplemental-briefing order. Because we conclude that Patrick's constitutional challenge to his sentence is not barred by R.C. 2953.08(D)(3), we then address the issue raised in Patrick's proposition of law.

A. R.C. 2953.08(D)(3) does not preclude an appellate court from considering the constitutionality of an aggravated-murder sentence imposed on a juvenile offender tried as an adult

{¶ 12} R.C. 2953.08 was enacted in 1996 as part of Am.Sub.S.B. No. 2, 146 Ohio Laws, Part IV, 7136, and its companion legislation, Am.Sub.S.B. No. 269, 146 Ohio Laws, Part VI, 10752 (collectively referred to as "S.B. 2"). R.C. 2953.08(A) states, "In addition to any other right to appeal and except as provided in division (D) of this section, a defendant who is convicted of or pleads guilty to a felony may appeal as a matter of right the sentence imposed upon the defendant * * *." R.C. 2953.08(D)(3), however, states that "a sentence imposed for aggravated murder or murder pursuant to sections 2929.02 to 2929.06 of the Revised Code is not subject to review under this section." Patrick was sentenced pursuant to R.C. 2929.03.

{¶ 13} Patrick argues that R.C. 2953.08 created a new right to appeal a felony sentence in addition to any other right to appeal. He argues that the statutory preclusion against review of aggravated-murder sentences contained in R.C. 2953.08(D)(3) does not apply to his appeal, because he did not invoke appellate jurisdiction under R.C. 2953.08. In fact, Patrick concedes that if an appellant seeks review of an aggravated-murder sentence under R.C. 2953.08, the appellate court would be precluded from conducting that review by R.C. 2953.08(D)(3). But Patrick distinguishes his appeal as a constitutional challenge to the sentencing process and, he argues, this court can review such challenges under R.C. 2505.03 and 2953.02. Finally, Patrick argues that if we accept the state's argument that R.C. 2953.08(D)(3) precludes any appellate review of aggravated-murder sentences, then the provision is unconstitutional.

{¶ 14} The state argues that R.C. 2953.08 is the exclusive route to appeal a felony sentence, unless a more specific statute applies. It argues that no more specific statute provides a basis for Patrick to appeal his aggravated-murder sentence and that neither R.C. 2505.03 nor R.C. 2953.02 applies to Patrick's appeal.

1. R.C. 2953.08 is not the exclusive basis for appealing a sentence

{¶ 15} It is clear from the language in R.C. 2953.08 that the statute does not establish the only basis by which a...

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