The Cleveland Plain Dealer reports, "Task force urges state panel be created to evaluate death penalty prosecutions," by Robert Higgs.
A state task force is recommending that Ohio create a panel under the state attorney general that would review potential death penalty cases before prosecutors could take them to trial.
Under current Ohio law, the power to decide when to pursue the death penalty rests in the hands of individual county prosecutors.
But the recommendation by the Joint Task Force to Review the Administration of Ohio's Death Penalty would give the new panel authority to disapprove death penalty charges.
The recommendation is an attempt to address disparities in death penalty prosecutions in Ohio, said Ohio Public Defender Timothy Young, who chaired a subcommittee that drafted the recommendation.
Once a prosecutor made a decision, the panel -- made up of staff from the attorney general’s office and former county prosecutors appointed by the governor -- would review that decision.
It would look at the circumstances of the case, giving particular consideration to the races of those charged and the victims, said Jo Ellen Cline, government relations counsel to the Ohio Supreme Court and the court’s liaison to the joint task force.
“It would be a significant change in how things operate now,” Cline said.
The task force’s recommendation has a long way to go before it could become reality. It likely will be late in the year before the task force finishes its work, and some recommendations, including this one, would require legislative action to change state law.
Given that, not all of the details on how the panel would work, or if a prosecutor would have some recourse if opposed to the panel’s decision, are not nailed down. That specificity would likely come from the General Assembly, Cline said.
Earlier coverage of the Ohio task force begins at the link. More information is at the Joint Task Force to Review the Administration of Ohio's Death Penalty website.