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Date: 08-14-2020

Case Style:

STATE EX REL. AGATHA MARTIN WILLIAMS v. BUREAU OF SENTENCE COMPUTATION, ET AL

Case Number: 109326

Judge: SEAN C. GALLAGHER

Court: COURT OF APPEALS OF OHIO EIGHTH APPELLATE DISTRICT COUNTY OF CUYAHOGA

Plaintiff's Attorney: Dave Yost, Ohio Attorney General, and George Horvath,
Assistant Ohio Attorney General

Defendant's Attorney:

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In February 2012, Williams plead guilty to one count of forgery, four
counts of grand theft, and one count of theft. Williams was sentenced to a term of
incarceration of eight and a half-years (102 months), but placed on community
control in State v. Williams, Stark C.P. No. 2012-CR-0164. Williams violated the
terms of her community control and the sentence of 102 months of incarceration
was ordered into effect. In December 2017, Williams filed a complaint for a
declaratory judgment, in Williams v. Bureau of Sentence Computation, Cuyahoga
C.P. No. CV-17-889847, through which she sought additional credits toward her
sentence based upon R.C. 2967.193 and Ohio Adm. Code 5120-2-06(K)(4). The trial
court, on July 31, 2018, held that:
In her petition for declaratory judgment, filed December 1, 2017,
Williams seeks a declaration regarding the sentencing legislation under
which she was sanctioned to prison. Williams maintains she was
sentenced under House Bill 86 and thus entitled to five days of earned
credit each month of successful participation and completion of
educational programming under R.C. 2967.193(D)(5). Further,
Williams asserts that, pursuant to O.A.C. 5120-2-06(J)(4), she is
entitled to five days of credit for each month of participation. In its
motion for summary judgment, BSC agrees that Williams was
sentenced under House Bill 86, but maintains she is limited to one day
of earned credit per month because her offenses were committed prior
to September 30, 2011. The court finds the argument of BSC to have
merit. For the following reasons, summary judgment is granted in
favor of the defendant BSC and against plaintiff Williams.
The parties do not dispute the facts. Williams was charged on
February 16, 2012 with one count of forgery, four counts of grand theft,
and one count of theft, which offenses were committed against clients
of Williams in her capacity as their attorney between December 21,
2007 and February 28, 2011. Williams pled guilty on February 16, 2012
and was sentenced to five years of community control, among other
sanctions; she also was advised at sentencing that a violation of
community control would result in a maximum consecutive prison
term for each charge, for total of 102 months.
On September 27, 2012 Williams revealed during disciplinary
proceedings that she had violated conditions of her community control
sentence. The trial court subsequently revoked Williams’ probation
and sentenced her to 102 months incarceration. Williams appealed the
consecutive nature of her sentence, and the appellate court determined
that the trial court did not make the requisite findings under
2929.14(C)(4) (as amended by H.B. 86) that consecutive sentences
were appropriate. The case was remanded to the trial court for
resentencing. At resentencing, the trial court found consecutive
sentences were appropriate, made the statutorily required findings,
and sentenced Williams to 102 months incarceration. Williams
subsequently has been awarded one day of earned time credit for each
month that she has been incarcerated for successfully completed
qualifying programs under R.C. 2967.193(A) and (D)(5). In denying
her appeal to receive five days of credit, the Division of the Chief
Inspector on Grievance Appeal at NEPRC mistakenly indicated that he
determined that Williams was sentenced under Senate Bill 2.
House Bill 86 became effective September 30, 2011. The section that
relates to Williams’ sentence states: “except as provided in division (C)
of this section, if the most serious offense for which the offender is
confined is a felony of the third, fourth, or fifth degree or an unclassified
felony and neither division (D)(2) nor (3) of this section applies to the
offender, the offender may earn one day of credit under division (A) of
this section if the offender committed that offense prior to
September 30, 2011, and the offender may earn five days of credit
under division (A) of this section if the offender committed that offense
on or after September 30, 2011.” R.C. 2967.193 (2012). The statute
remains the same in its current form.
Upon consideration of the relevant law and evidence, the court finds
that there is no genuine issue of material fact and, after construing the
undisputed evidence in light most favorable to the non-moving parties,
reasonable minds can come only to the conclusion that defendant BSC
is entitled to judgment in its favor as a matter of law. The court declares
that Williams was sentenced under H.B. 86, and further declares that
Williams is thus entitled to one day of earned credit per month under
R.C. 2967.193 and OAC 5120-2- 06(J)(4) based upon the dates upon
which Williams committed the underlying offenses for which she
currently is incarcerated. Although the Department of Rehabilitation
and Correction has promulgated unartfully worded brochures and
notices regarding earned credit in prison which Williams believes
entitles her to five days credit per month, that does not change the clear
language of the statute indicating that Williams is entitled to only one
day of credit per month due to her offenses being committed prior to
September 30, 2011. BSC’s motion for summary judgment is granted;
Williams’ motion for summary judgment is denied.
Williams appealed the trial court’s judgment and this court, in
Williams v. Bur. of Sentencing & Computation, 8th Dist. Cuyahoga No. 107626,
2019-Ohio-997, affirmed the judgment of the trial court and held that:
Williams maintains that she was sentenced under House Bill 86 and
therefore, under R.C. 2967.193(D)(5), she is entitled to five days of
earned credit for each month of successful participation and
completion of educational programming.
In the instant case, there is no dispute that Williams was sentenced
under House Bill 86. BOSCO agrees Williams was sentenced under
House Bill 86. The record is also clear that the appeals court remanded
Williams’s case for the trial court to make appropriate findings, before
imposing consecutive sentences, required following the enactment of
House Bill 86. Williams, 2013-Ohio-3448 at 23-25.
In the trial court’s well-reasoned decision, it stated in pertinent part as
follows: “The Court declares that Williams was sentenced under H.B.
86, and further declares that Williams is thus entitled to one day of
earned credit per month under R.C. 2967.193 and OAC 5120-2-
06(J)(4) based upon the dates upon which Williams committed the
underlying offenses for which she currently is incarcerated.”
The parties agree that R.C. 2967.193(D)(5) determines the amount of
credit to which Williams is entitled. R.C. 2967.193(D)(5) provides:
“Except as provided in division (C) of this section, if the most serious
offense for which the offender is confined is a felony of the third, fourth,
or fifth degree or an unclassified felony and neither division (D)(2) nor
(3) of this section applies to the offender, the offender may earn one
day of credit under division (A) of this section if the offender committed
that offense prior to September 30, 2011, and the offender may earn
five days of credit under division (A) of this section if the offender
committed that offense on or after September 30, 2011.”
It is undisputed from the record that the bill of information that
charged Williams with one count of forgery, four counts of grand theft,
and one count of theft, indicated that the offenses were committed
against her client between December 2007 and February 2011. The
above statute states: “the offender may earn one day of credit under
division (A) of this section if the offender committed that offense prior
to September 30, 2011.” Therefore, based on the plain reading of the
statute, Williams is entitled to one day of earned credit per month, not
five days as she contends.
The interpretation of a statute is an issue of law, which we review de
novo. See, e.g., State v. Vanzandt, 142 Ohio St.3d 223, 2015-Ohio-236,
28 N.E.3d 1267, ¶ 6. Where, as here, a statute is unambiguous and
definite, we must apply the plain meaning of the statute as written. In
re J.Y., 8th Dist. Cuyahoga No. 2018-Ohio-2405, 114 N.E.3d 1221,
citing Antoon v. Cleveland Clinic Found., 148 Ohio St.3d 483, 2016-
Ohio-7432, 71 N.E.3d 974, ¶ 20 (“‘An unambiguous statute must be
applied in a manner consistent with the plain meaning of the statutory
language[.]’”), quoting State ex rel. Burrows v. Indus. Comm., 78 Ohio
St. 3d 78, 81, 1997-Ohio-310, 676 N.E.2d 519 (1997).
Based on the plain meaning of R.C. 2967.193(D)(5) and the date
Williams committed the charged offenses, there is no genuine issue of
material fact and BOSCO was entitled to judgment as a matter of law.
Therefore, the trial court did not err when it granted BOSCO’s motion
for summary judgment.
Williams, supra at ¶ 12.
On December 24, 2019, Williams filed her complaint for a writ of
mandamus. On January 29, 2020, the BOSC and the ODRC filed a joint motion to
dismiss. For the following reasons, we grant the joint motion to dismiss.
II. MANDAMUS REQUIREMENTS AND ANALYSIS
Williams, in order to be entitled to a writ of mandamus, must
demonstrate that: (1) she possesses a clear legal right to have the BOSC and ODRC
recalculate and provide additional credit toward her sentence of incarceration that
was earned as the result of participation in inmate programs; and reclassification
within the internal inmate records kept by the BOSC and the ODRC as a HB 86
offender instead of a SB 2 offender; (2) the BOSC and ODRC possesses a clear duty
to immediately recalculate and provide additional credit toward her sentence of
incarceration that was earned as the result of participation in inmate programs; and
reclassification within the internal inmate records kept by the BOSC and the ODRC
as a HB 86 offender instead of a SB 2 offender; and (3) Williams possesses or
possessed no plain and adequate remedy in the ordinary course of the law. State ex
rel. Kerns v. Simmers, 153 Ohio St.3d 103, 2018-Ohio-256, 1010 N.E. 3d 430; State
ex rel. Berger v. McMonagle, 6 Ohio St.3d 28, 451 N.E.2d 225 (1983). Moreover,
mandamus is an extraordinary remedy that is to be exercised with caution and only
when the right is clear. Mandamus will not issue in doubtful cases. State ex rel.
Taylor v. Glasser, 50 Ohio St.2d 165, 364 N.E.2d 1 (1977); and State ex rel. Connole
v. Cleveland Bd. of Edn., 87 Ohio App.3d 43, 621 N.E.2d 850 (8th Dist.1993).
Initially, we find that Williams is not entitled to a writ of mandamus
based upon the application of the doctrine of res judicata. The doctrine of res
judicata encompasses the two related concepts of claim preclusion, also known as
res judicata or estoppel by judgment, and issue preclusion, also known as collateral
estoppel. Claim preclusion prevents subsequent actions, by the same parties or their
privies, based upon any claim arising out of a transaction that was the subject matter
of a previous action. Where a claim could have been litigated in the previous suit,
claim preclusion also bars subsequent actions on that matter. Issue preclusion, on
the other hand, serves to prevent relitigation of any fact or point that was
determined by a court of competent jurisdiction in a previous action between the
same parties or their privies. Issue preclusion applies even if the causes of action
differ. Fort Frye Teachers Assn. v. State Emp. Relations Bd., 81 Ohio St.3d 392,
692 N.E.2d 140 (1998); Grava v. Parkman Twp., 73 Ohio St.3d 379, 653 N.E.2d 226
(1995).
The issue of additional earned credit toward the sentence of
incarceration imposed upon Williams has already been litigated by the trial court
and affirmed upon appeal, based upon R.C. 2967.193(D)(5) and Ohio Adm. Code
5120-2-06(J)(4). Thus, the doctrine of res judicata bars any further review of the
issue of additional earned credit toward the sentence of incarceration. State ex rel.
Peoples v. Schneider, Slip Opinion No. 2020-Ohio-1071; Jackson v. Johnson, 135
Ohio St.3d 364, 2013-Ohio-999, 586 N.E.2d 989.
Finally, in the absence of evidence of any present injury, it is wellestablished that declaratory judgment is an adequate remedy at law to correct prison
records. Turner v. Dept. of Rehab. & Corr., 144 Ohio St.3d 377, 2015-Ohio-2833,
43 N.E.3d 435. A prisoner possesses an adequate remedy in the ordinary course of
the law through an action in declaratory judgment filed in the common pleas court
in order to correct a prison record. State ex rel. Earl v. Shafer, 85 Ohio St.3d 370,
708 N.E.2d 714 (1999). Williams has failed to demonstrate any present injury
because the determination of any earned credit toward her sentence of incarceration
was made under HB 86 and not SB 2.

Outcome: We find that Williams has failed to establish that she possesses a clear
legal right to have the BOSC and ODRC recalculate and provide additional credit
toward her sentence of incarceration and reclassification within the internal inmate
records kept by the BOSC and the ODRC as a HB 86 offender instead of a SB 2
offender. We further find that Williams has failed to establish that the BOSC and
ODRC possesses a clear duty to immediately recalculate and provide additional
credit toward her sentence of incarceration and reclassification within the internal
inmate records kept by the BOSC and the ODRC as a HB 86 offender instead of a SB
2 offender. Finally, Williams has or had an opportunity to avail herself of an
adequate remedy at law through a declaratory judgment and an appeal from any
judgment issued by a court of competent jurisdiction.
Accordingly, we grant the joint motion to dismiss. Costs to Williams.
The court directs the clerk of courts to serve all parties with notice of this judgment
and the date of entry upon the journal as required by Civ.R. 58(B).
Complaint dismissed.
_____________________________

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