from Jefferson Circuit Court (CC-15-2613; CC-15-2614)
Arteaga Gonzalez appeals her convictions in the Jefferson
Circuit Court for violating the city's ordinances
prohibiting animals to run at large and keeping a vicious
animal. Gonzalez was initially convicted in the Homewood
Municipal Court and then filed a notice of appeal for a jury
trial de novo in the Jefferson Circuit Court. The circuit
court denied her request for a jury trial and, following a
bench trial on July 12, 2016, convicted Gonzalez of violating
both ordinances. She received concurrent sentences of five
days' hard labor in the Homewood city jail for each
violation and was fined $200 plus court costs.
and Procedural History
3, 2015, Doreen Skillen and Carol Speed were walking through
their neighborhood when two dogs approached them. Both women
testified that the dogs jumped them and bit Skillen on the
leg and the back.
that time, Justin McCarty was getting out of his Stanley
Steemer cleaning van in a customer's driveway, and one of
the dogs approached him. According to McCarty, the larger of
the two dogs "nibbled playfully" on him and
scratched him with its teeth.
Sgt. John Carr and Officer Ted Springfield were called to the
scene. Sgt. Carr testified that, when he arrived, he saw one
of the dogs trying to bite McCarty. Sgt. Carr further
testified that, when he whistled at the dog to get it away
from McCarty, the dog charged at him. Feeling threatened,
Sgt. Carr pulled out his gun and then shot and killed the
dog. The other dog was impounded. Officer Springfield then
her arrest, Gonzalez was convicted in the Homewood Municipal
Court for allowing animals to run at large, keeping a vicious
animal, and refusing to comply with a lawful order.
Thereafter, Gonzalez filed timely notice of appeal for a jury
trial de novo in the Jefferson Circuit Court, pursuant to
Rule 30.1, Ala. R. Crim. P.
notice-of-appeal forms Gonzalez used to file her appeal in
the Jefferson Circuit Court contained two boxes with
signature lines under each box by which she could select
either "Trial Without Jury" or "Defendant
Demands Trial by Jury." Gonzalez initialed and dated the
blanks on all three forms under the box stating
"Defendant Demands a Jury Trial"; however, she
checked this box only on the form relating to the
refusal-to-comply-with-a-lawful-order charge. She did not do
so on the forms for her remaining two charges.
the trial de novo in the Jefferson Circuit Court, the City of
Homewood dismissed the failure-to-comply-with-a- lawful-order
charge but decided to proceed on the remaining two charges.
The circuit court determined that, because the dismissed
charge was the only charge as to which Gonzales had checked
the box demanding a jury trial, the trial on the other two
charges would proceed without a jury. The circuit court
further noted that, despite the fact that she had initialed
and dated the blanks next to the box for a jury demand,
Gonzalez had, in effect, waived her right to demand a jury
trial in these cases.
Gonzalez's objection, the circuit court tried her without
a jury, and she was convicted of the two remaining charges.
argues on appeal that the circuit court committed reversible
error by denying her a trial by jury on the charges of
allowing animals to run at large and keeping a vicious
animal. (Gonzalez's brief, p. 13.) Although she
acknowledges that she neglected to check the
jury-trial-demand boxes on the notice-of-appeal forms for
these two charges, she points out that she initialed and
dated the blanks under these boxes. (Gonzalez's brief, p.
16.) According to Gonzalez, by doing so, she was clearly
indicating that she was demanding a jury trial for each
charge. (Gonzalez's brief, p. 17.) We agree.
Alabama, it is well settled that the "right of trial by
jury is fundamental in our jurisprudence, guaranteed by the
Constitution ... and, if this guaranty means anything at all,
it is that the defendant is entitled to trial by a jury
selected and impaneled as prescribed by the law of the
land." Spooney v. State, 217 Ala. 219, 221, 115
So. 308, 310-311 (1928). Rule 18.1(a), Ala. R. Crim. P.,
governs the procedure for ...