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Date: 05-21-2020

Case Style:


Case Number: 19CA010

Judge: Patricia A. Delaney


Plaintiff's Attorney: ROBERT K. HENDRIX

Defendant's Attorney:

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The following facts are adduced from the record of appellant’s jury trial.
{¶3} On January 31, 2018, around 10:30 a.m., a drive-through teller at a bank
on North Clay Street in Millersburg noticed a car stopped in the bank’s fourth lane. The
fourth lane is a lane of travel used to exit the parking lot. A man got out of the vehicle, a
dark green Lincoln, and paced back and forth. He did not approach the A.T.M. or
otherwise appear to have business at the bank.
{¶4} As the teller watched from the drive-through window, she saw the man
pacing agitatedly, talking on a cell phone. He waved his arms in the air and walked toward
bank customers parked in other drive-through lanes, gesturing at them. The teller called
the bank manager over to watch, and they observed one customer roll up her window
and drive off without conducting her transaction. At one point the man threw his cell
phone down in the parking lot. The teller described the man’s behavior as “unusual” and
threatening toward the bank customers. The employees did not want to confront the man.
{¶5} Unnerved, the bank employees locked the doors and called the Millersburg
Police. Captain Kim Hermann was dispatched for a report of a person with vehicle
trouble. He found the man, identified as appellant, standing outside the Lincoln with its
trunk open. Hermann asked appellant “what was going on,” and appellant responded
that he was very thirsty. He also said “someone had taken over control of his vehicle and
Holmes County, Case No. 19CA010 3
his cell phone.” Hermann asked appellant for I.D. and he provided his driver’s license.
Hermann ran the license and registration and found that appellant did not have any active
warrants and the Lincoln belonged to appellant’s mother. Hermann noted appellant’s
mouth was visibly extremely dry and his pupils were dilated. Appellant repeated that he
was very thirsty. Hermann asked appellant what he was on and appellant responded that
someone forced him to use meth.
{¶6} The driver’s door of the vehicle was open, and Hermann observed a
marijuana “joint” in plain sight on the floor in front of the passenger seat. When asked
about the marijuana, appellant said it wasn’t his but he had smoked it. Hermann asked
appellant whether he mother was home but appellant said she was working; Hermann
had determined that appellant would not be permitted to drive away from the scene and
would have to be picked up.
{¶7} At that point, Hermann intended to write appellant a minor-misdemeanor
citation for marijuana possession and to call someone to give appellant a ride. When
Hermann asked appellant to sit in the backseat of the cruiser, though, appellant threw his
cell phone to the ground and took off “at a jog.” Hermann ran after him, toward a sidewalk
leading to the town square. Hermann asked appellant to return to the scene and appellant
cooperated, turning around and returning to the bank parking lot without requiring
Herrmann to apprehend him.
{¶8} Hermann placed appellant in the back seat of the cruiser and initially
allowed him to keep his feet outside of the vehicle because appellant did not want the
door shut. Hermann permitted this because appellant was calm and cooperative at that
point. Hermann still intended to write a minor-misdemeanor citation for marijuana
Holmes County, Case No. 19CA010 4
possession. Another police officer arrived on the scene, Deputy Stryker from the Holmes
County Sheriff’s Department. Hermann asked Stryker to search appellant’s vehicle due
to the marijuana “joint” Hermann had spotted, and Stryker began to search the vehicle.
Appellant agreed to put both feet inside the cruiser so Hermann could close the door.
Hermann and Stryker were talking to each other when Hermann saw the door of the
cruiser “bulging out” from being struck from the inside and heard “banging” from inside
the vehicle. Hermann opened the door, intending to arrest appellant for criminal
damaging. Appellant would not permit Hermann to handcuff or subdue him, and resisted
by raising his arms and struggling inside the vehicle. Stryker got involved and eventually
helped cuff appellant’s hands in front of him.
{¶9} The bank employees watched the entire encounter from inside the bank.
They observed appellant put his feet inside the cruiser and saw Hermann shut the door;
then they observed the cruiser “physically shaking” and saw the officers open the doors
to attempt to calm appellant. The employees could not see inside the cruiser but assumed
appellant was kicking the door.
{¶10} Hermann testified that the molding of the cruiser door was pulled off, and
he and Stryker both had minor injuries from the altercation, Hermann to his knee and
Stryker to his knuckle. Eventually appellant was cuffed, but a squad was called and
appellant was transported to a hospital under sedation. The vehicle was towed.
{¶11} Appellant was charged by indictment as follows: Count I, obstructing official
business pursuant to R.C. 2921.31(A) and R.C. 2921.31(B), a felony of the fifth degree;
Count II, resisting arrest pursuant to R.C. 2921.33(B) and R.C. 2921.33(D), a
misdemeanor of the first degree; Count III, criminal damaging or endangering pursuant
Holmes County, Case No. 19CA010 5
to R.C. 2909.06(A)(1) and R.C. 2909.06(B), a misdemeanor of the second degree; Count
IV, disorderly conduct pursuant to R.C. 2917.11(B)(1) and R.C. 2917.11(E)(3)(a), a
misdemeanor of the fourth degree; and Count V, possession of marijuana pursuant to
R.C. 2925.11(A) and R.C. 2925.11(C)(3)(a), a minor misdemeanor. Count V is
accompanied by a forfeiture specification pursuant to R.C. 2941.1417(A).
{¶12} Appellant entered pleas of not guilty and filed a motion to suppress.
Appellee filed a memorandum in opposition. A suppression hearing was held and the
trial court overruled the motion to suppress by judgment entry dated September 19, 2018.
{¶13} On January 18, 2019, appellee filed a Notice of State’s Intention to Use
Evidence, asserting appellee would introduce evidence of the following prior convictions
of appellant pursuant to Evid.R. 404(B) and R.C. 2945.59: 2001 robbery and abduction,
2005 having weapons while under disability, and 2009 receiving stolen property and
misuse of credit cards. Appellant filed a motion in limine to exclude evidence of other
crimes, wrongs, or acts. On February 12, 2019, the trial court filed an Opinion and
Judgment Entry stating that although the prior convictions cited by appellee are over 10
years old, Evid.R. 609 permits inclusion if the proponent gives the adverse party sufficient
advance written notice and provides the adverse party with fair opportunity to contest the
use of the evidence. In the instant case, the trial court ruled appellee complied with
Evid.R. 609 and therefore the prior felony convictions were admissible if appellant testified
and could be cross-examined on their validity.
{¶14} The matter proceeded to trial by jury, and the minor-misdemeanor drug
possession charge was heard by the trial court. Appellant moved for judgments of
acquittal pursuant to Crim.R. 29(A) at the close of appellee’s evidence and at the close
Holmes County, Case No. 19CA010 6
of all of the evidence; the motions were overruled. Appellant was found guilty as charged
and the trial court imposed a prison term of 11 months.
{¶15} Appellant filed a motion for leave to file a delayed appeal, which we granted.
{¶16} Appellant now appeals from the February 12, 2019 Judgment Entry of
{¶17} Appellant raises four assignments of error:
{¶22} In his first assignment of error, appellant argues his convictions upon
Counts I through III are against the manifest weight of the evidence.1 Although not
specified in the assignment of error, appellant also challenges the sufficiency of the

1 Appellant does not challenge his convictions upon Count IV, disorderly conduct, and
Count V, possession of marijuana.
Holmes County, Case No. 19CA010 7
evidence supporting his convictions. We find appellant’s convictions are supported by
sufficient evidence and are not against the manifest weight of the evidence.
{¶23} The legal concepts of sufficiency of the evidence and weight of the evidence
are both quantitatively and qualitatively different. State v. Thompkins, 78 Ohio St.3d 380,
1997-Ohio-52, 678 N.E.2d 541, paragraph two of the syllabus. The standard of review for
a challenge to the sufficiency of the evidence is set forth in State v. Jenks, 61 Ohio St.3d
259, 574 N.E.2d 492 (1991) at paragraph two of the syllabus, in which the Ohio Supreme
Court held, “An appellate court's function when reviewing the sufficiency of the evidence
to support a criminal conviction is to examine the evidence admitted at trial to determine
whether such evidence, if believed, would convince the average mind of the defendant's
guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. The relevant inquiry is whether, after viewing the
evidence in a light most favorable to the prosecution, any rational trier of fact could have
found the essential elements of the crime proven beyond a reasonable doubt.”
{¶24} In determining whether a conviction is against
the manifest weight of the evidence, the court of appeals functions as the “thirteenth
juror,” and after “reviewing the entire record, weighs the evidence and all reasonable
inferences, considers the credibility of witnesses and determines whether in resolving
conflicts in the evidence, the jury clearly lost its way and created such a manifest
miscarriage of justice that the conviction must be overturned and a new trial
ordered.” State v. Thompkins, supra, 78 Ohio St.3d at 387. Reversing a conviction as
being against the manifest weight of the evidence and ordering a new trial should be
reserved for only the “exceptional case in which the evidence weighs heavily against the
conviction.” Id.
Holmes County, Case No. 19CA010 8
{¶25} Appellant challenges appellee’s evidence upon certain elements of each
offense and we will examine each in turn.
{¶26} Regarding his conviction for obstructing official business [Count I], appellant
argues there was no evidence that his actions inside the police car “alleged[ly] banging
on the door” delayed performance of the officers’ official duties, nor created a risk of
physical harm to either officer. He also argues there is no evidence his actions were
purposeful. “A person acts ‘purposely’ when it is the person's specific intention to cause
a certain result, or, when the gist of the offense is a prohibition against conduct of a certain
nature, regardless of what the offender intends to accomplish thereby, it is the offender's
specific intention to engage in conduct of that nature.” R.C. 2901.22(A). Appellant was
found guilty of one count of obstructing official business pursuant to R.C. 2921.31(A),
which provides, “No person, without privilege to do so and with purpose to prevent,
obstruct, or delay the performance by a public official of any authorized act within the
public official's official capacity, shall do any act that hampers or impedes a public official
in the performance of the public official's lawful duties.” Pursuant to R.C. 2921.31(B),
obstructing official business is a felony of the fifth degree if the violation creates a risk of
physical harm to any person. R.C. 2901.01(A)(3) defines “physical harm to persons” as
“any injury, illness, or other physiological impairment, regardless of its gravity or duration.”
{¶27} Appellant’s actions inside the cruiser were not merely “alleged;” he admitted
striking the door with his shoulder to get the officers’ attention. There is ample evidence
appellant’s actions were purposeful. His actions inside the police cruiser of kicking the
door, or slamming his shoulder to the door, were substantial enough to make the
Holmes County, Case No. 19CA010 9
“shaking” of the cruiser visible to onlookers inside the bank, and led Hermann to open the
door to attempt to arrest appellant for criminal damaging.
{¶28} During the ensuing struggle, appellant caused physical harm to Hermann
and Stryker: Hermann’s knee was bleeding, and the knuckle of Stryker’s glove was torn
off and his knuckle was bleeding. A risk of physical harm can exist when an officer
attempts to restrain a suspect. State v. Gordon, 2017-Ohio-7147, 95 N.E.3d 994, ¶ 22
(9th Dist.), appeal dismissed, 151 Ohio St.3d 1525, 2018-Ohio-557, 91 N.E.3d 757, citing
State v. Vactor, 9th Dist. Lorain No. 02CA008068, 2003-Ohio-7195, 2003 WL 23095277,
¶ 39. Appellee was only required to present evidence that appellant's actions created
a risk of physical harm to any person. Gordon, supra, at ¶ 23, citing State v. Washington,
9th Dist. Lorain No. 11CA010015, 2014-Ohio-1876, 2014 WL 1800410, ¶ 18. In the
instant case, appellee presented evidence that physical harm resulted to both officers.
{¶29} We conclude the jury could have reasonably found appellant obstructed
official business in struggling with the officers in the back of the cruiser and that his actions
created a risk of physical harm.
{¶30} Appellant was also found guilty upon one count of resisting arrest pursuant
to R.C. 2921.33(B) [Count II], which states, “No person, recklessly or by force, shall resist
or interfere with a lawful arrest of the person or another person and, during the course of
or as a result of the resistance or interference, cause physical harm to a law enforcement
officer.” Appellant argues there is no evidence how or when Hermann’s knee was cut,
and characterizes his actions as “cooperative from the inception with Law Enforcement.”
Again, this argument contradicts appellant’s own trial testimony in which he admitted he
was aggravated and upset, and “didn’t want to deal” with police. T. 194. The weight of
Holmes County, Case No. 19CA010 10
the evidence and the credibility of the witnesses are determined by the trier of fact. State
v. Yarbrough, 95 Ohio St.3d 227, 231, 2002-Ohio-2126, 767 N.E.2d 216, ¶ 79. Hermann
testified that he opened the door of the cruiser to arrest appellant when he saw the door
bulge out; appellant resisted being cuffed and struggled with both officers inside the
cruiser, thrashing, moving, and pulling away. Eventually appellant was cuffed with his
hands in front, but he required sedation upon arrival of an E.M.T. squad before he could
be transported to the hospital. Appellant was admittedly under the influence of drugs.
We find appellant’s conviction of resisting arrest is supported by sufficient evidence and
is not against the manifest weight of the evidence.
{¶31} Finally, appellant challenges his conviction upon one count of criminal
damaging pursuant to R.C. 2909.06(A)(1) [Count III], which provides, “No person shall
cause, or create a substantial risk of physical harm to any property of another without the
other person's consent [k]nowingly, by any means.” Appellant argues there was no
evidence what caused the “banging” on the cruiser door; we note, however, that appellant
testified he “knocked” on the cruiser door to get the officers’ attention, and when that didn’t
work, he hit the door with his shoulder. T. 195-196. “Physical harm to property” means
“any tangible or intangible damage to property that, in any degree, results in loss to its
value or interferes with its use or enjoyment,” not including wear and tear occasioned by
normal use. R.C. 2901.01(A)(4). As appellant fully acknowledges, he tore down the
molding on the interior of the cruiser door. Appellant’s admitted actions establish the
offense of criminal damaging.
{¶32} We find the trial court did not clearly lose its way and create a manifest
miscarriage of justice requiring that appellant's convictions be reversed and a new trial
Holmes County, Case No. 19CA010 11
ordered. Appellant's convictions upon these offenses are not against
the manifest weight of the evidence.
{¶33} The jury as the trier of fact was free to accept or reject any and all of the
evidence offered by the parties and assess the witness's credibility. “While the trier of fact
may take note of the inconsistencies and resolve or discount them accordingly * * * such
inconsistencies do not render defendant's conviction against the manifest weight or
sufficiency of the evidence.” State v. Johnson, 2015–Ohio–3113, 41 N.E.3d 104, ¶ 61
(5th Dist.), citing State v. Nivens, 10th Dist. Franklin No. 95APA09–1236, 1996 WL
284714 (May 28, 1996). The jury need not believe all of a witness' testimony, but may
accept only portions of it as true. Id.
{¶34} Any inconsistencies in the evidence were for the trial court to resolve. State
v. Dotson, 5th Dist. Stark No. 2016CA00199, 2017-Ohio-5565, ¶ 49. “The weight of the
evidence concerns the inclination of the greater amount of credible evidence offered in a
trial to support one side of the issue rather than the other.” State v. Delevie, 5th Dist.
Licking No. 18-CA-111, 2019-Ohio-3563, ¶ 30, appeal not allowed, 158 Ohio St.3d 1410,
2020-Ohio-518, 139 N.E.3d 927, citing State v. Brindley, 10th Dist. Franklin No. 01AP926, 2002-Ohio-2425, 2002 WL 1013033, ¶ 16. In the instant case, appellee’s evidence
was compelling, and the jury was free to weigh appellant’s self-serving testimony
{¶35} We find appellant's convictions are not against the manifest weight or
sufficiency of the evidence. His first assignment of error is overruled.
Holmes County, Case No. 19CA010 12
II., III., IV.
{¶36} Appellant’s remaining assignments of error are related and will be
addressed together. He argues that the trial court erred in overruling his motion in limine
and in admitting evidence of his prior convictions; that appellee committed prosecutorial
misconduct in asking about the prior convictions and pending charges; and that defense
trial counsel was ineffective in challenging admission of the prior convictions. We
{¶37} As noted supra in the statement of procedural history, appellee filed a notice
of intent to use evidence of appellant’s prior convictions and appellant responded with a
motion in limine to exclude the evidence.
{¶38} The admission or exclusion of relevant evidence is a matter left to the sound
discretion of the trial court. Absent an abuse of discretion resulting in material prejudice
to the defendant, a reviewing court should be reluctant to interfere with a trial court's
decision in this regard. State v. Hymore, 9 Ohio St.2d 122, 128, 224 N.E.2d 126 (1967).
We further note that a trial court's ruling upon a motion in limine “is a tentative,
interlocutory, precautionary ruling by the trial court reflecting its anticipatory treatment of
the evidentiary issue” and “finality does not attach when the motion is granted.” State v.
Grubb, 28 Ohio St.3d 199, 201–02, 503 N.E.2d 142 (1986), citing State v. White, 6 Ohio
App.3d 1, 4, 451 N.E.2d 533 (8th Dist.1982). The trial court is at liberty to reconsider the
ruling if circumstances arise at trial that further reflect upon the admissibility of the
disputed evidence. State v. Holbrook, 5th Dist. Licking No. 16-CA-61, 2017-Ohio-2972,
¶ 24.
Holmes County, Case No. 19CA010 13
{¶39} Upon overruling appellant’s motion in limine, the trial court found appellee
complied with the pertinent portions of Evid.R. 609:
(A) General Rule. For the purpose of attacking the credibility
of a witness:
* * * *.
(2) notwithstanding Evid.R. 403(A), but subject to Evid.R.
403(B),2 evidence that the accused has been convicted of a crime is
admissible if the crime was punishable by death or imprisonment in
excess of one year pursuant to the law under which the accused was
convicted and if the court determines that the probative value of the
evidence outweighs the danger of unfair prejudice, of confusion of
the issues, or of misleading the jury.
(3) notwithstanding Evid.R. 403(A), but subject to Evid.R.
403(B), evidence that any witness, including an accused, has been
convicted of a crime is admissible if the crime involved dishonesty or
false statement, regardless of the punishment and whether based
upon state or federal statute or local ordinance.

2 Ohio Evid. R. 403 states:
(A) Exclusion Mandatory. Although relevant, evidence is not admissible if
its probative value is substantially outweighed by the danger of unfair prejudice, of
confusion of the issues, or of misleading the jury.
(B) Exclusion Discretionary. Although relevant, evidence may be excluded
if its probative value is substantially outweighed by considerations of undue delay,
or needless presentation of cumulative evidence.
Holmes County, Case No. 19CA010 14
(B) Time Limit. Evidence of a conviction under this rule is not
admissible if a period of more than ten years has elapsed since the
date of the conviction or of the release of the witness from the
confinement, or the termination of community control sanctions,
post-release control, or probation, shock probation, parole, or shock
parole imposed for that conviction, whichever is the later date, unless
the court determines, in the interests of justice, that the probative
value of the conviction supported by specific facts and circumstances
substantially outweighs its prejudicial effect. However, evidence of a
conviction more than ten years old as calculated herein, is not
admissible unless the proponent gives to the adverse party sufficient
advance written notice of intent to use such evidence to provide the
adverse party with a fair opportunity to contest the use of such
{¶40} Appellant argues the trial court erred in overruling the motion in limine and
in permitting appellee to cross-examine appellant about convictions older than 10 years
because the trial court did not make a determination whether the probative value of
admission of the prior convictions outweighed any prejudicial effect. Appellee responds
that it was appellant who introduced evidence of his own prior convictions during his direct
{¶41} After appellee rested and before appellant decided whether he would
testify, the trial court addressed the admissibility of the prior convictions and appellant
renewed his objection thereto, arguing that the prior convictions were irrelevant and
Holmes County, Case No. 19CA010 15
prejudicial. Ultimately the trial court ruled evidence of the prior convictions was
admissible in cross-examination of appellant if he testified.
{¶42} Appellant chose to testify and during direct examination, defense trial
counsel asked him specifically about each of the prior convictions, including the 2001
“aiding and abetting a robbery and abduction,” a 2005 weapons while under disability,
and a 2009 misuse of credit cards and receiving stolen property. Counsel then asked,
“Um were those [prior felonies] on your mind in any way when this event was going on?”
and appellant responded, “No. I haven’t been in trouble since then. I mean, it’s felonies
that.” (sic). T. 197.
{¶43} Upon cross-examination, the prosecutor asked appellant whether he had
been “in trouble” since, and appellant responded that no, he said he hadn’t had any
felonies. The prosecutor then stated, “In fact right now you’ve got a charge pending
downstairs in Municipal Court and felonies pending.” Defense trial counsel immediately
objected and the trial court stated this information was “highly prejudicial” and the
prosecutor would be limited to questions about convictions, not cases that were still
pending. T. 198. The prosecutor then stated, “You’ve not been in any trouble since then,
no wait, just felonies. You have had multiple criminal convictions since those cases
ended, isn’t that correct?” And appellant answered, “That’s correct.” T. 198.
{¶44} We agree with appellee that appellant opened the door to the prior
convictions. Appellant introduced two issues when he took the stand in his own defense:
his prior felony convictions and his credibility, admitting on direct examination he had
multiple felony convictions and identifying each of them. Further, appellant claimed,
apparently falsely, that he has not been “in trouble” since. Thus, appellant opened the
Holmes County, Case No. 19CA010 16
door to this issue and to his credibility. State v. Franklin, 178 Ohio App.3d 460, 2008-
Ohio-4811, 898 N.E.2d 990, ¶ 78 (7th Dist.).
{¶45} We further note the trial court did give the jury a limiting instruction,
instructing the jury that it was to use the evidence of appellant's prior crimes only in
considering his credibility and not for proving his character. T. 232.
{¶46} Finally, the evidence of appellant's guilt was substantial. Hermann’s
testimony about his encounter with appellant was buttressed by photos of the damage to
the cruiser and injuries to the police and by the testimony of two bank-employee
eyewitnesses. We find that the trial court did not err in permitting evidence of the prior
convictions, and note any error was harmless because appellant ultimately introduced the
{¶47} Appellant next argues the prosecutor committed misconduct in introducing
evidence of the prior convictions and in cross-examining him about the pending cases.
The test for prosecutorial misconduct is whether the prosecutor's remarks and comments
were improper and if so, whether those remarks and comments prejudicially affected the
substantial rights of the accused. State v. Lott, 51 Ohio St.3d 160, 166, 555 N.E.2d 293
(1990), cert. denied, 498 U.S. 1017, 111 S.Ct. 591, 112 L.Ed.2d 596 (1990). In reviewing
allegations of prosecutorial misconduct, we must review the complained-of conduct in the
context of the entire trial. Darden v. Wainwright, 477 U.S. 168, 184, 106 S.Ct. 2464, 91
L.Ed.2d 144 (1986). Prosecutorial misconduct will not provide a basis for reversal unless
the misconduct can be said to have deprived appellant of a fair trial based on the entire
record. Lott, supra, 51 Ohio St.3d at 166, 555 N.E.2d 293.
Holmes County, Case No. 19CA010 17
{¶48} The prosecutor asked appellant about pending felony and misdemeanor
cases on cross-examination. Evid.R. 609 allows the state to impeach the accused's
credibility with evidence of prior felony convictions. Here, the prosecutor arguably went
beyond the Rule asking appellant about pending cases, a line of questioning that was
immediately extinguished by the trial court. In light of appellant’s testimony on direct about
not being “in trouble” since his felonies, the prosecutor raised the pending cases to attack
appellant’s credibility for truth and veracity as Evid.R. 609 intends.
{¶49} As we found supra, the trial court did not abuse its discretion in allowing
appellee to use appellant's prior convictions to impeach his credibility. Appellant's
testimony on direct examination opened the door to further questioning on crossexamination about his prior convictions. Furthermore, since appellant's version of what
occurred during the encounter with police contradicted the other witnesses, his credibility
was at issue. See, State v. Brown, 100 Ohio St.3d 51, 2003-Ohio-5059, 796 N.E.2d 506,
¶ 27. Under these circumstances, it was appropriate for the state to impeach appellant
and to test his credibility by introducing testimony regarding these prior convictions. Id.
Furthermore, we find no undue delay or needless accumulation in permitting such
evidence under Evid.R. 403(B).
{¶50} “No application of justice permits a defendant to intentionally lead a trial
court astray and profit from the misdirection that the defendant himself created.” State v.
Bachtel, 5th Dist. Holmes No. 99-CA-011, 2001 WL 310638, *3, citing State v. Jennings,
5th Dist. Ashland No. CA-770, unreported, 1982 WL 5564 (November 24, 1982).
Furthermore, the trial court instructed the jury that said evidence could be considered for
the sole purpose of evaluating appellant’s credibility.
Holmes County, Case No. 19CA010 18
{¶51} Finally, appellant argues defense trial counsel was ineffective in failing to
properly object to the evidence of the prior convictions. As noted supra, defense trial
counsel filed a motion in limine to exclude the evidence, and renewed the motion at trial
via objection outside the presence of the jury. Defense trial counsel then asked appellant
upon direct examination about each of the specific challenged convictions. When the
prosecutor brought up appellant’s pending cases, the trial court sua sponte shut down the
questions and instructed the prosecutor to stick to appellant’s convicted offenses only.
To succeed on a claim of ineffectiveness, a defendant must satisfy a two-prong test.
Initially, a defendant must show that trial counsel acted incompetently. See, Strickland v.
Washington, 466 U.S. 668. In assessing such claims, “a court must indulge a strong
presumption that counsel's conduct falls within the wide range of reasonable professional
assistance; that is, the defendant must overcome the presumption that, under the
circumstances, the challenged action ‘might be considered sound trial strategy.’ ” Id. at
689, citing Michel v. Louisiana, 350 U.S. 91, 101, 76 S.Ct. 158 (1955). “There are
countless ways to provide effective assistance in any given case. Even the best criminal
defense attorneys would not defend a particular client in the same way.” Strickland, 466
U.S. at 689. The question is whether counsel acted “outside the wide range of
professionally competent assistance.” Id. at 690.
{¶52} Even if a defendant shows that counsel was incompetent, the defendant
must then satisfy the second prong of the Strickland test. Under this “actual prejudice”
prong, the defendant must show that “there is a reasonable probability that, but for
counsel's unprofessional errors, the result of the proceeding would have been
different.” Strickland, 466 U.S. at 694.
Holmes County, Case No. 19CA010 19
{¶53} Appellant challenges defense trial counsel’s decision to introduce the prior
convictions upon direct examination, a decision we find to be trial strategy. Counsel may
have attempted to blunt the impact of the prior convictions upon cross-examination. State
v. Adkins, 5th Dist. Morrow No. CA-906, 2002-Ohio-3942, ¶ 27. While
the trial strategy was ultimately not successful and the tactics were debatable, we find
they do not form a basis for ineffective assistance of counsel. Id.
{¶54} In the instant case, we find appellant has demonstrated neither
ineffectiveness by counsel nor resulting prejudice. Appellant does not suggest what
counsel should have done differently, other than request a limiting instruction. The record
contains extensive discussion of a limiting instruction (T. 214-217) and as noted supra,
the trial court did give a limiting instruction regarding appellant’s prior convictions.
{¶55} Appellant’s second, third, and fourth assignments of error are overruled.

Outcome: Appellant’s four assignments of error are overruled and the judgment of the
Holmes County Court of Common Pleas is affirmed.

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