Crim.R. 32(C) Interpretation

In State v. Baker, 119 Ohio St.3d 197, 893 N.E.2d 163, 2008 Ohio 3330, the court analyzed Crim.R. 32(C) in order to determine what a judgment of conviction must include to become a final appealable order. "In order to decide whether an order issued by a trial court in a criminal proceeding is a reviewable final order, appellate courts should apply the definitions of 'final order' contained in R.C. 2505.02." Baker, supra, at P 6, quoting State v. Muncie (2001), 91 Ohio St.3d 440, 444, 2001 Ohio 93, 746 N.E.2d 1092, citing State ex rel. Leis v. Kraft (1984), 10 Ohio St.3d 34, 36, 10 OBR 237, 460 N.E.2d 1372. R.C. 2505.02(B) provides: "An order is a final order that may be reviewed, affirmed, modified, or reversed, with or without retrial, when it is one of the following: "(1) An order that affects a substantial right in an action that in effect determines the action and prevents a judgment." As the Baker court determined, "a judgment of conviction qualifies as an order that 'affects a substantial right' and 'determines the action and prevents a judgment' in favor of the defendant." When entering a final judgment, pursuant to Crim. R. 32(C), the judgment entry filed by the trial court must contain certain elements. Crim.R. 32(C), states: "A judgment of conviction shall set forth the plea, the verdict or findings, and the sentence. If the defendant is found not guilty or for any other reason is entitled to be discharged, the court shall render judgment accordingly. the judge shall sign the judgment and the clerk shall enter it on the journal. a judgment is effective only when entered on the journal by the clerk." The Baker court found the phrase "the plea, the verdict or findings, and the sentence" contained within Crim.R. 32(C) to be confusing. The Court determined that a logical interpretation of the rule requires the trial court to sign and journalize a document "memorializing the sentence and the manner of the conviction: a guilty plea, a no contest plea upon which the court has made a finding of guilt, a finding of guilt based upon a bench trial, or a guilty verdict resulting from a jury trial." Baker, supra, at P12. The court stated, "We now hold that a judgment of conviction is a final appealable order under R.C. 2505.02 when it sets forth: (1) the guilty plea, the jury verdict, or the finding of the court upon which the conviction is based; (2) the sentence; (3) the signature of the judge; (4) entry on the journal by the clerk of court. Simply stated, a defendant is entitled to appeal an order that sets forth the manner of conviction and the sentence." Id. at P18.