Rules Addressing Representation of Indigent Defendants in Ohio

The Supreme Court’s news service, posts that attorneys wanting to be appointed by a court to represent indigent defendants in capital cases must apply for certification from the Committee on the Appointment of Counsel for Indigent Defendants in Capital Cases, and to be certified by the committee as trial lead counsel, trial co-counsel, or appellate counsel, attorneys must meet certain qualifications and possess specific practice experience.  Those rules are in the process of being changed with the Supreme Court proposing alteration of some of those qualifications.

Under rules being proposed rules, experience as lead counsel in a jury trial of at least one murder or aggravated murder case must have occurred within the past 10 years, and the committee recommended expanding the time frame from three to five years for experience as trial lead counsel in three aggravated or first or second degree felony jury trials in a court of common pleas. Experience in 10 or more criminal or civil jury trials, at least three of which were felony jury trials, will no longer suffice as qualifying experience for lead counsel.

Proposed rule changes that address co-counsel qualifications include:

•Similar to the lead counsel provision, new rules would require co-counsel previous experience to have occurred within the last 10 years in at least one murder or aggravated murder jury trial.
•The committee recommended expanding the necessary experience for co-counsel to second-degree felony jury trials but limiting the experience to either a first (current rule) or second-degree felony jury trial within the past five years.
•The committee also recommended expanding the “look-back period” for co-counsel experience – either as lead or co-counsel in at least two felony jury, but not civil jury trials in common pleas court – to five years.

Access the text of the proposed amendments here.

Those wishing to comments  should  do so by July 9 in writing to:

Susan Christoff, Attorney Services Division Director
Supreme Court of Ohio
65 S. Front St., Fifth Floor
Columbus, Ohio 43215

Or via e-mail including your name and address to