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Date: 07-23-2020

Case Style:


Case Number: 108791



Plaintiff's Attorney: Michael C. O’Malley, Cuyahoga County Prosecuting
Attorney, and Tasha L. Forchione, Assistant Prosecuting

Defendant's Attorney:

Call 918-582-6422 for free help finding a great criminal defense lawyer in Ohio.


In 1975, Jefferson was convicted of aggravated robbery and aggravated
murder. Id. at ¶ 2. For aggravated robbery, the trial court sentenced Jefferson to a
prison term of 7 to 25 years and for aggravated murder the court sentenced him to
life in prison. Id. This court affirmed Jefferson’s convictions and sentence. Id. For
some reason, the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction was not
notified of Jefferson’s aggravated murder conviction and life sentence and, in 1981,
it erroneously placed Jefferson on parole before granting him final release in 1982.
Id. at ¶ 3.
In 1985, Jefferson was indicted on new charges. Id. at ¶ 4. The trial
court issued a capias for his arrest in both the 1975 and 1985 cases. Id. Jefferson
was convicted on the new charges and sentenced to an aggregate term of 7 to 15 years
in prison. Id. The trial court ordered this sentence to run concurrent with his 1975
life sentence. Id.
In 1988, Jefferson sought a writ of habeas corpus, arguing that his 1982
discharge from parole rendered the trial court without jurisdiction to order him back
to prison to serve his life sentence. Id. The Fourth District Court of Appeals rejected
this argument and, in doing so, found that Jefferson’s parole was void. Jefferson v.
Morris, 48 Ohio App.3d 81, 548 N.E.2d 296 (4th Dist.1988). The court observed
that “[e]ven though appellant was recommitted to serve his sentence by a
subsequent order of the trial court, he is being held under the original judgment and
sentence * * *.” Id. at 82. The court further noted that it was not statutorily possible
for Jefferson to have been granted parole in 1981:
A prisoner serving a sentence for life for the offense of aggravated
murder, which sentence was imposed for an offense committed prior
to October 19, 1981, becomes eligible for parole after serving a term of
fifteen full years. R.C. 2967.13(B). Manifestly, appellant was not
eligible for parole and the Adult Parole Authority was without authority
to parole appellant since by his own admission appellant had served
only about five years of his life sentence.
Id. at 83.
In 2016, Jefferson filed the instant motion and the trial court denied it.
Jefferson failed to timely appeal and a motion for delayed appeal was granted.
In 2018, Jefferson sought a writ of mandamus in this court, seeking to
compel the trial court to hold a hearing on the trial court’s 1985 capias issued for his
1975 case, arguing that this arrest and subsequent reincarceration violated his due
process rights. Jefferson v. Current Successor, 8th Dist. Cuyahoga No. 108010,
2019-Ohio-2905. This court granted the trial court’s motion for summary
judgment, concluding that Jefferson’s claim was barred by res judicata. Id. at ¶ 6.
We noted that Jefferson’s claimed basis for relief was the same basis he asserted in
his 2016 motion which the trial court denied and which, at that time, he had not yet
appealed. Id. at ¶ 4.
In that case we observed that following the Fourth District’s
determination, that the Ohio Supreme Court resolved that the trial court’s return of
Jefferson to prison following his erroneous release had been litigated to its
conclusion and that, therefore, the collateral estoppel branch of res judicata barred
any further action based on this issue. Id. at ¶ 14-15 (rejecting Jefferson’s reasserted
claim that “his continued incarceration is invalid” based on “the order of release
from parole”).
Law and Analysis
“A sentence is void when a sentencing court lacks jurisdiction over the
subject-matter of the case or personal jurisdiction over the accused.” State v.
Harper, Slip Opinion No. 2020-Ohio-2913 ¶ 42.
Jefferson concedes that “[i]n this case the trial courts [sic] sentencing
order was valid.” He has advanced no claim that his life sentence was not statutorily
authorized or that the trial court did not have the authority to impose it.
Instead, as previously discussed, he challenges the subsequent court
order returning him to prison after he was erroneously released. As such, Jefferson’s
claim that his sentence is void is merely a veneer. Jefferson’s 1985 capias and
subsequent return to prison are not germane to a determination of whether his 1975
life sentence is void. This motion is nothing but a vehicle for him to relitigate an
issue that several courts have already decided against him. Jefferson’s sentence is
not void. The trial court committed no error denying the motion.
Alternatively, as discussed, Jefferson’s claim is barred by the issue
preclusion branch of res judicata.
Collateral estoppel (issue preclusion) prevents parties or their privies
from relitigating facts issues in a subsequent suit that were fully
litigated in a prior suit. Collateral estoppel applies when the fact or
issue (1) was actually and directly litigated in the prior action, (2) was
passed upon and determined by a court of competent jurisdiction, and
(3) when the party against whom collateral estoppel is asserted was a
party in privity with a party to the prior action.
Thompson v. Wing, 70 Ohio St.3d 176, 183, 637 N.E.2d 917 (1994),
citing Whitehead v. Gen. Tel. Co., 20 Ohio St.2d 108, 254 N.E.2d 10 (1969),
paragraph two of the syllabus. Multiple courts have determined that res judicata
bars Jefferson’s continued attempts to litigate this issue. See, e.g., State ex rel.
Jefferson v. Russo, Slip Opinion No. 2020-Ohio-338 at ¶ 9-10.
Beyond the cases previously discussed, we note that Jefferson has
elsewhere challenged his return to prison following his erroneous release.1
1 See, e.g., State ex rel. Jefferson v. McMonagle, 8th Dist. Cuyahoga No. 75891, 1999
Ohio App. LEXIS 1071 (Mar. 18, 1999); State ex rel. Jefferson v. Ohio Adult Parole Auth.,
86 Ohio St.3d 304, 1999-Ohio-163, 714 N.E.2d 926; State ex rel. Jefferson v. Wilkinson,
10th Dist. Franklin No. 05AP-520, 2006-Ohio-5946; State ex rel. Jefferson v. Russo, 8th
Dist. Cuyahoga No. 90682, 2008-Ohio-135; Jefferson v. Bunting, 146 Ohio St.3d 340,
2016-Ohio-614, 56 N.E.3d 935; State ex rel. Jefferson v. Ohio Dept. of Rehab. & Corr., 10th
Dist. Franklin No. 19AP-366, 2019-Ohio-4025, ¶ 6.
Loc.R. 23(A) of the Eighth District Court of Appeals provides that “[a]n
appeal, original action, or motion shall be considered frivolous if it is not reasonably
well-grounded in fact, or warranted by existing law, or by a good faith argument for
the extension, modification, or reversal of existing law.” This appeal is frivolous.
Moreover, Jefferson’s continued attempts to relitigate the order returning him to
prison following his erroneous release unnecessarily wastes court resources.
Where a party “habitually, persistently, and without reasonable cause”
engages in such frivolous conduct, Loc.R. 23(B) empowers this court to declare the
party to be a vexatious litigator and impose filing restrictions. We declare Jefferson
a vexatious litigator. See Loc.R. 23(C) (“Any party that has been declared a vexatious
litigator * * * must seek leave of court to proceed with any appeal or original action
that is filed in the Eighth District Court of Appeals.”).

Outcome: Judgment affirmed.

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