Showing posts with label death penalty. Show all posts
Showing posts with label death penalty. Show all posts

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

State v. Roberts - death sentence affirmed on third appeal

Today the Court announced its decision in State v. Roberts, a death penalty appeal that had made two prior trips to the Supreme Court. In the first appeal, the Court vacated the death sentence because the trial judge had engaged in improper ex parte communications with the prosecutor, and had allowed the prosecutor to assist in drafting the sentencing opinion. In the second appeal, the Court vacated the death sentence because the trial court had (apparently) failed to consider the defendant's allocution.

This time, the Court affirms. Justice O'Neill concurred in the judgment affirming the conviction, but dissented as to the imposition of the death penalty (as he now always does). Chief Justice O'Connor concurred in the judgment only.

This blog has previously covered the case of Roberts's co-defendant, Nathaniel Jackson, whose conviction and sentence were affirmed last summer.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Court affirms death penalty

The Court today affirmed the death penalty imposed on Steven Cepec, who was convicted of the aggravated murder of Frank Munz in 2010. Cepec had raised arguments relating to Miranda violations, ineffective assistance of counsel, the competency of adverse witnesses, and other issues, all of which were rejected by at least six justices.

Justice O'Neill concurred in part and dissented in part without opinion, which I interpret to mean that he concurred in the convictions, but dissented with respect to the sentence of death. Justice O'Neill has previously written that he would hold the death penalty to be unconstitutional.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

State v. Jackson - death penalty; no right to be resentenced by new judge after original judge was publicly reprimanded for violating Code of Judicial Conduct in connection with first sentencing

In State v. Jackson , the Court affirmed the death penalty imposed upon Nathaniel Jackson for the 2001 murder of Robert Fingerhut. Jackson and his co-defendant, Donna Brooks (the victim's former wife), were initially sentenced to death in 2002. Roberts's death sentence was vacated by the Court in 2006, on the ground that the sentencing judge engaged in improper ex parte communications with an assistant prosecutor regarding the sentencing opinion, an act for which the Court later publicly reprimanded the judge. Jackson used the decision in Roberts's case and the public reprimand--and the judge's admission that the same type of ex parte communications had occurred in Jackson's case--to obtain post-conviction relief in the form of a new sentencing hearing. The new sentencing hearing was conducted by the same judge, who in 2012 again sentenced Jackson to death in an opinion that Jackson characterized as substantially identical to the 2002 "tainted" sentencing opinion. The Court rejected these arguments, holding in part that because Jackson had attempted to have the judge removed through the Ohio Constitution's judicial disqualification mechanism, and that disqualification was denied, relitigation of whether the judge was biased against Jackson was barred by res judicata.  The Court further held that there was no showing that the taint of the 2002 sentencing opinion carried over to the 2012 sentencing opinion.  Justice Judith Ann Lanzinger dissented on the grounds that the lower court did not properly consider Jackson's allocution upon resentencing; she wrote that the 2012 sentencing opinion was clearly prepared in advance of the resentencing hearing because it was filed immediately after the hearing, thus violating Jackson's right to allocution.

State v. Montgomery - death penalty; sua sponte competency evaluation not required merely because capital defendant is on prescription medication

In State v. Montgomery, the Court affirmed the death penalty imposed by a three-judge panel upon Caron Montgomery, who had waived his right to a jury trial and pleaded guilty to murder, domestic violence, and aggravated murder with death specifications, in connection with the 2010 murders of Montgomery's girlfriend Tia Hendricks, their two-year-old son Tyron Hendricks, and Tia Hendricks's nine-year-old daughter Tahlia Hendricks. Of note, Montgomery contended on appeal that his jury waiver and guilty plea were not knowingly, voluntarily, and intelligently made because he was taking two prescription medications, Thorazine and Risperdal, at the time of the waiver and plea. He further contended that the trial court knew that he was under the influence of the medications, and should have ordered a competency evaluation. The Court disagreed, holding that the panel interacted with Montgomery multiple times over an 18-month period, adequately conducted the Crim.R. 11 plea and waiver colloquys (including adequate inquiry into the prescription medications), and properly determined that there was no reason to suspect that Montgomery was incompetent. The Court also stated that "we have never held that a court must order a competency hearing before accepting a guilty plea from a capital defendant who is taking a prescription medication for mental illness, and we decline to do so now." Justice William M. O'Neill dissented, arguing that the Court's 2004 decision in State v. Mink required the lower court to conduct a competency evaluation before accepting a guilty plea from a capital defendant on prescription medications.