Ohio Death Penalty Task Force Report Update

Not all of the 22-member Ohio Supreme Court death penalty assessment task force were in agreement when they wrapped up their review of the state’s death penalty “administrative and procedural mechanisms” yesterday, Cleveland’s Plain Dealerreports this morning, with prosecutors on the task force saying  recommendations the panel considered would effectively curtail use of capital punishment in Ohio., especially that of creating a panel under the Ohio attorney general that would have to approve death penalty charges before cases proceed.

second Plain Dealer article revealed “the recommendation for a review panel had been closely debated with a subcommittee giving it  its backing last June by a vote of 8-6. Ohio Public Defender Timothy Young, though,  who co-chaired the subcommittee, said then that he wouldn’t be surprised if prosecutors opposed to the recommendation wrote a dissenting report” – a dissent now expected to be filed sometime next week.

Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O'Brien, the one article continues, was quoted as saying that “the goal of the Joint Task Force was not that of abolishing the death penalty, but the recommendations it was considering could effectively make capital cases so difficult that prosecutors won’t pursue them,” That recommendation, O’Brien said, would seem to clash with the discretion county prosecutors have to decide what charges to file and what cases to pursue.

O’Brien is part of that group that intends to present a dissent to the recommendations, perhaps by next week, according to the Plain Dealer. Others are representatives for Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Timothy McGinty and Hamilton County’s Joseph Deters.

The task force, created in 2011, met much of Thursday to review 56 recommendations in the draft report. Dissents are due to the panel by April 22. The final report, including dissents, is to be ready by mid May.

Coincidentally, the American Bar Association’s Death Penalty Due Process Review Project released its report of key findings of ABA State Death Penalty Assessments (2006-2013) at its National Symposium on the Modern Death Penalty last November, also announcing its beginning of its second round of assessments. The Project’s 2007  report titled “Evaluating Fairness and Accuracy in State Death Penalty Systems: The Ohio Death Penalty Assessment Report”  was the catalyst behind the Task Force’s creation in 2011.