Ohio bill would simplify the process of overturning wrongful convictions – SalemNews.net


Nov 12, 2022
(The Center Square) – If legislation introduced into the Ohio House of Representatives becomes law, the state would simplify the process of overturning wrongful convictions.
Twenty-one House members co-sponsored House Bill 738, introduced by State Reps. David Leland, D-Columbus, and Paula Hicks-Hudson, D-Toledo.
The legislation was born from a July 2022 report released by the Task Force on Conviction Integrity and Postconviction Review. Leland was a member of that task force, convened in February 2020 by Supreme Court of Ohio Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor. Both Leland and Hicks-Hudson are licensed to practice law in Ohio.
According to the National Registry of Exonerations, four people had their criminal convictions exonerated in the year 2021.
“A wrongful conviction is not only an injustice to the innocent person sitting in prison, it also means that a guilty criminal remains at large. We must fix these errors and bring the real offenders to justice. Finality cannot justify keeping an innocent person in prison,” Leland said.
HB738, which awaits referral to a House committee, seeks to implement several recommendations from the CIPR task force report. Those directives include:
– Providing defendants more opportunities to discover new evidence and seek a new trial to overturn their conviction. There will be no time limit for this reconsideration because exonerating evidence can appear at any time.
– Requiring the Ohio Criminal Sentencing Commission to collect additional data about felony appeals and post-conviction proceedings.
– Creating an Independent Innocence Inquiry Commission modeled after a North Carolina project with the same vision. The commission would wield broad investigatory and subpoena powers to review claims of innocence brought before it. If the claim is found to be credible, the commission will refer the matter for further judicial review.
“This bill provides a commonsense way for an innocent person to receive true justice. It is a thoughtful and balanced approach to restore a wrongly convicted person to full citizenship,” said Hicks-Hudson. “HB738 gathers important data so that we can improve our criminal justice system, and hopefully, prevent such injustices from occurring in the future.”
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