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Chief Justice Of Ohio Calls for Review of State Death Penalty Scheme

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On Thursday, Chief Justice of the Ohio Supreme Court Maureen O’Connor said the time has come to review the state’s death penalty to make sure it is administered efficiently and fairly.

At her first State of the Judiciary address, she announced the creation of a joint task force to look at the issue. The panel, created by the Ohio Supreme Court and the Ohio State Bar Association, will not study whether Ohio should have the death penalty, just whether the current death penalty scheme is enacted fairly.

The task force of about twenty judges, attorneys, legislators, and academic experts will look at American Bar Association (ABA) reports, laws, practices in other states, and costs. Issues could include how judges are using their power to reduce death sentences to life without parole and why some prosecutors seek the death penalty while others do not.

A 2007 ABA found a number of problems with Ohio’s death penalty, including wrongful convictions, inadequate resources for defendants and their lawyers, and geographic and racial disparities.

In her speech, O’Connor also

  • Urged judges to speak about state Issue 1, which asks voters to decide whether judges should have more time on the bench before they are forced to retire at the arbitrary age of seventy.
  • Noted that Ohio judges have not received pay raises in four years, but acknowledged that now is not the time to increase their pay.
  • Called for abolishing partisan primaries for judicial elections and establishing nonpartisan panels to appoint judges.

Via The Columbus Dispatch.

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