"Future is unclear for report on Ohio death penalty," is the AP report by Andrew Welsh-Huggins. It's via the Tribune-Chronicle.
Ohio's capital punishment law would look much different if all recommendations from a committee studying it were put in place, death penalty supporters and opponents said Thursday while disagreeing with the proposals' ultimate impact.
The committee convened in 2011 by Ohio Supreme Court Chief Justice Maureen O'Connor met Thursday to finalize its last report and 56 proposed changes.
All the recommendations could be put in place and capital punishment would remain in Ohio, but in a vastly reduced form, state Public Defender Timothy Young said.
"Ohio would still have capital punishment but I think it would be limited to the worst of the worst cases, which has always been the stated goal of the death penalty in the United States," Young said, a supporter of many of the proposals.
"‘With these rules, you couldn’t execute Timothy McVeigh,’ argues task-force dissent," is by Alan Johnson in the Columbus Dispatch.
A deeply divided Ohio Supreme Court Death Penalty Task Force wrapped up two years of work yesterday, but odds are not all the sweeping recommendations will be adopted.
During a contentious four-hour final meeting, the committee approved 56 recommendations in a draft report — including banning execution of the mentally ill, creating a statewide capital-litigation fund, requiring DNA or video evidence for a capital-murder conviction and reserving capital punishment for the “worst of the worst” crimes.
But word that a dissenting minority report is being drafted by county prosecutors and Stephen Schumaker of Attorney General Mike DeWine’s office bogged down the discussion and triggered numerous arguments.
Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O’Brien was the most-outspoken critic, saying, “With these rules, you couldn’t execute Timothy McVeigh.” He was referring to the Oklahoma City bomber who was prosecuted in the crime’s 168 deaths and executed by the federal government.
The Cleveland Plain Dealer reports, "Prosecutors object! Supreme Court task force's recommendations could end use of death penalty in Ohio, they say," by Robert Higgs.
Prosecutors on a task force evaluating Ohio’s death penalty say recommendations the panel is considering would effectively curtail use of capital punishment in Ohio.
Abolishing the death penalty was not the goal of the Joint Task Force to Review the Administration of Ohio's Death Penalty, said Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O'Brien. But the recommendations it is considering could effectively make capital cases so difficult that prosecutors won’t pursue them.
O’Brien is part of a group that intends to present a dissent to the recommendations, perhaps by next week. Others include representatives for Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Timothy McGinty and Hamilton County’s Joseph Deters.
"Panel advises slashing list of capital offenses," by Jim Provance of the Toledo Blade.
Some of the recommendations would require legislative action, far from a sure thing. Others could be accomplished through change in judicial rules adopted by the Supreme Court.
The death penalty itself was never on trial. A moratorium on carrying out executions during the review process was also not considered.
Instead, the task force concentrated on the application of capital punishment in Ohio, when it would and would not be appropriate, the long-term preservation of evidence, and racial and geographic disparities in its implementation.
The 22-member task force — consisting of judges, legislators, prosecutors, defense attorneys, and members of law enforcement and academics — was not unanimous in support of all 56 recommendations. A separate dissenting report from some members, in particular prosecutors, is expected to follow.
"Panel urges changes to Ohio's death penalty guidelines," is by Marc Kovac of Dix News, via the Alliance Review.
Members on Thursday reviewed more than 50 recommendations during a meeting in Columbus, debating the format and content of the resulting report.
Among other recommendations, the panel is urging that the death penalty only be considered or imposed in cases where there is biological or DNA evidence, a confession, recorded evidence that definitively links a defendant to a crime or other factors offered by the general assembly in developing related law changes.
The death penalty, members say, should not be considered for individuals who are suffering from a serious mental illness, or permitted in cases that rely on the testimony of jailhouse informants.
The task force also is recommending removing kidnap, rape, aggravated arson, aggravated robbery and aggravated burglary from the list of capital case specifications. The report notes that such charges "result in death verdicts 7 percent of the time or less when charged as a death penalty case."
Additional language calls for increased care in the handling, preservation and availability of biological or DNA evidence and required recordings of interrogations.
Earlier coverage of the Ohio study commission begins at the link. Also available, more at the Joint Task Force to Review the Administration of Ohio's Death Penalty website.