Domestic violence conviction overturned

Larry Limpf

A conviction of a man in Oregon Municipal Court on a domestic violence charge has been reversed on appeal.
Robert F. Gaughan appealed the April 2019 court judgment that included a jail sentence and a $200 fine.
The Ohio Sixth District Court of Appeals found the lower court erred in not granting a motion filed by Gaughan to withdraw his plea of no contest after he learned his then girl friend made contradictory statements to police from what she said on the victim impact report.
“Rather than determine whether appellant’s (Gaughan) claimed potential defense to the charge constituted a reasonable and legitimate basis on which to grant his motion, the trial court usurped the role of the jury by determining that the claimed potential defense lacked merit,” the appeals court ruled. “Appellant’s contention is that M.K.’s (victim) inconsistent statements fairly raise questions as to her credibility. Since M.K. is the sole witness to the underlying event, her credibility is of paramount importance to the state’s prosecution of this case.”
Gaughan and his then girl friend reportedly got into to an altercation at a retail store in Oregon in December 2018 and he allegedly elbowed her in the lower back and through a state-issued benefit card at her.
He initially entered a not guilty plea but four days later filed a no contest plea, contending the charge was false but he was facing the prospect of getting fired from his job while the charge was pending. Entering a no contest plea was “pretty much what he had to do” to get released, he told the court.
Gaughan also filed a motion seeking the release of the victim impact statement but was denied by the municipal court.
After denying the motion, the court sentenced him to 180 days in jail with 173 days suspended. He received credit for seven days he previously spent in custody prior to his sentencing. Gaughon was also sentenced to one year of inactive probation with the condition that he have no contact with M.K. and complete a domestic violence batterers program. He was also ordered to pay a $200 fine plus court costs.
“What the record clearly reflects, however, is that appellant was denied the opportunity to even attempt to identify support for his motion based on M.K.’s victim impact statement which the trial court itself found concerning. As a result, we find that appellant did not receive the full extent of the hearing necessary to provide support for his motion,” the appeals court ruled.


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