Ohio bill proposes additional protections for death penalty cases, postconviction relief

According to the Columbus Daily Reporter, (sub req.) a bipartisan bill aimed at changing postconviction relief proceedings is currently pending in an Ohio Senate committee. Senate Bill 139, co-sponsored by Bill Seitz, R-Cincinnati, and Sandra Williams, D-Cleveland, provides several enhancements to postconviction relief that could potentially offer greater protection to those who were wrongfully convicted, particularly in death penalty cases.

The bill seeks to implement several recommendations from the Ohio Supreme Court's Joint Task Force to Review the Administration of Ohio’s Death Penalty. It would require that the clerk of courts for the common pleas court that imposed the death penalty make and keep a full copy of the original trial file before forwarding it on to the appropriate higher court. It also specifies that there is no page limit on petitions for postconviction relief in death penalty cases, permits depositions and subpoenas during the discovery process in postconviction relief proceedings and requires a judge hearing these proceedings to give specific reasons why each claim was refused or granted in findings of fact and conclusions of law.

Both Seitz and Williams state that the provisions of the bill would provide additional protections to help prevent the execution of innocent people. For more information, see the Ohio General Assembly page for bill text and LSC analysis.

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