One of the stated missions of OACDL is to serve as a public policy resource for the Executive, Legislative and Judicial branches of government, seeking to promote the formulation of sound criminal justice law-making and responsible law enforcement. To that end, OACDL is committed to an active role in pending criminal justice legislation and rules governing practice and procedure in the courts of Ohio.
Providing an independent, expert resource to Ohio criminal justice policy-makers and journalists covering criminal justice issues is an important OACDL function. Requests for information and advice on pending policy issues will receive a prompt and thorough response.
REMINDER: Nothing is final until the Governor either signs it, or vetoes it and the super majority of the legislature overrules him or doesn’t. This is the lame duck session and anything is possible.
HB 411: Wrongful Imprisonment: The bill modifies the law governing recovery for wrongful imprisonment. The bill allows an Ohio resident to file the civil action either in the court where the criminal action was initiated or in the common pleas court of the county where the person resides. Criterion describing the wrongful conviction is expanded to misdemeanor convictions, to the felonies or aggravated felonies covered under existing law. The bill also requires: 1) the Court of Claims to deduct any known debts owed; 2) a person to reimburse the state for the amount of any award in a related civil rights action that is received after the Court of Claims enters judgment in the person's favor and; 3) a person to reimburse the state for the entire award for wrongful imprisonment if the person is later convicted of an offense that is based on any act associated with the conviction that was vacated, reversed, or dismissed on appeal and that was the basis of the person being determined wrongfully imprisoned. The bill amends the current statutory provision that allows a wrongful imprisonment claim for an “error in procedure” and allows only the error of a Brady violation (i.e. prosecution withholding evidence) to be eligible for a claim based on “error in procedure. TCSRESULTS rdquo; correcting the Ohio Supreme Court’s decision in Mansaray v. Ohio.
OACDL efforts: Terry Gilbert, who argued Mansaray in the Ohio Supreme Court, offered proponent testimony on OACDL’s behalf.
STAUS: Currently awaiting vote from Senate, then signature by Governor.
SB 159: Sealing Records after Pardon: The bill expands the Not Guilty/Dismissed Charge/No Bill Record Sealing Law so that a person who is granted a pardon by the Governor may apply for and, if specified criteria are satisfied, be granted an order under that Law to seal the official records in the case in which the person was convicted of the pardoned offense. The bill does not change that Law as it applies with respect to a not guilty finding, a dismissed charge, or a grand jury no bill, and applies the current procedures of that Law, modified to fit the bill's provisions, to a pardoned person who applies for sealing under those provisions. The bill was introduced on June 1, 2017 and had a first hearing in the Senate Judiciary Committee on November 13, 2018.
OACDL efforts: We offered our support in advancing the bill to the sponsor.
STATUS: the bill was never set for a vote in committee.
HB 555: Retroactive Penalty Reduction: The bill makes a reduction of a penalty, forfeiture, or punishment apply retroactively when an offender was sentenced for the offense under the law in effect prior to the reduction, as long as the offense is not an offense of violence. The bill was introduced March 15, 2018 and had a first hearing in the House Criminal Justice Committee on November 13, 2018.
OACDL efforts: We offered our support to the bill’s sponsor.
STATUS: the bill was never set for a vote in committee.
SB 40/HB 81: Death Penalty sentencing prohibited for serious mental illness. To provide that a person convicted of aggravated murder who shows that the person had a serious mental illness at the time of committing the offense cannot be sentenced to death for the offense and to provide a mechanism for resenting to a life sentence a person previously sentenced to death who proves that the person had a serious mental illness at the time of committing the offense.
OACDL efforts: a call to all members went out on the list serve to contact their senators/representatives to tell them to support this bill.
STATUS: the retroactivity portion has been removed to try and get it voted out of the House, but it would still need to be voted out of the Senate.
SB 67/SB 231: Violent Offender Registry: The bill requires the Ohio Attorney General Bureau of Criminal Investigation to establish a Violent Offender Database (VOD), requires persons convicted of certain violent offenses to enroll in the database and names the provisions of the act "Sierah's Law". The bill also increases the current membership of the Ex-Offender Reentry Coalition from 17 to 21, adding four members of the General Assembly, specifying two of the four will be the chairpersons of the standing committees that primarily address criminal justice matters, modifies the duties of the Coalition and eliminates its repeal. The bill requires halfway houses to use the single validated risk assessment tool selected by the Department of Rehabilitation and Correction for adult offenders and it provides that that the notice of release from prison of specified offenders given to sheriffs is to be the same as that provided to prosecuting attorneys and eliminates the notice to sheriffs regarding pardons, commutations, paroles, and transitional control transfers of offenders.
OACDL efforts: offered to sign on to multi-organization letter opposing this legislation. Barb Wright led strong opposition to this bill.
STATUS: awaiting Governor’s signature.
SB 201/202/HB 365: Reagan-Tokes: re-implementing indefinite sentences for F1, F2 and violent F3s, regulating monitoring of released offenders. The bill provides for indefinite prison terms for first or second degree felonies and specified third degree felonies, with presumptive release of offenders sentenced to such a term at the end of the minimum term; generally allows the Department of Rehabilitation and Correction to reduce the minimum term for exceptional conduct or adjustment to incarceration; allows the Department to rebut the release presumption and keep an offender in prison up to the maximum term pursuant to specified findings. The bill also requires the Department to establish a reentry program for all offenders released from prison that the Department determines placement in a halfway house or similar facility is necessary, but the offender has not been accepted by any such facility; requires the Adult Parole Authority to establish maximum work-load and case-load standards for its parole and field officers and have enough trained officers to comply with the standards. It requires that GPS monitoring used for offenders released from prison under such monitoring specify restrictions, including inclusionary zones and necessary exclusionary zones; requires the Department to establish system requirements for GPS monitoring of such offenders by the Department or third-party contract administrators; requires the Department to operate a statewide database for law enforcement use containing specified information about such offenders; and requires that third-party administrators for GPS monitoring under a new contract with the Department provide and use a law enforcement-accessible crime scene correlation program. The bill also requires the Ohio Criminal Sentencing Commission to appoint an Offender Supervision Study Committee. The provisions are to be named the Reagan Tokes Act. The bill was reported out of the House Criminal Justice Committee as amended on May 22, 2018 and passed by the House on June 20, 2018, 90-3. On November 14, 2018, the bill was referred to the Senate Government Oversight and Reform Committee.
STATUS: SB 201 (indefinite sentences) is set to be voted out of the Senate and sent to the Governor, SB 202 (PRC monitoring) has not been set for a vote.
SB 235: Sex Offender Registry changes: certain offenders charged with unlawful sexual conduct with a minor can petition the court for removal.
STATUS: Currently added on to HB 68. HB 68 has not yet been set for a vote. Per the sponsor’s office, as of today, this bill is very much in flux.
The Ohio Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (OACDL) would like to bring two important legislative bills to the attention of our members, the legal community and the citizens of Ohio. Both bills are proceeding to hearing this week in the Ohio legislature. These bills are Senate Bill 159 and House Bill 555. The summaries and links to the full text of these bills are below.
SB 159: SEALING RECORDS AFTER PARDON (WILLIAMS S) To permit a person to apply for the sealing of the official records pertaining to a case in which the person was convicted of an offense for which the person is granted a pardon.
Summary: The bill allows any person who is granted, by the governor, an absolute and entire pardon; a partial pardon; or a pardon upon conditions precedent or subsequent may apply to the court for an order to seal the person's official records in the case in which the person was convicted of the offense for which any of those types of pardon is granted.
SB 159 Full Text:
HB 555: RETROACTIVE PENALTY REDUCTION (WEST T, SYKES E) To provide that a reduction of a penalty, forfeiture, or punishment for an offense applies with respect to an offender who committed that offense on or after the bill's effective date or, if the offense is not an offense of violence, prior to that date and was sentenced for the offense under the law in effect prior to the reduction.
Summary: The bill allows for a defendant to file a motion with the court asking for a reduction in "penalty, forfeiture, or punishment." The bill is retroactive other than offenses of violence. A defendant can only ask for a reduction for an offense of violence if the defendant was sentenced after the bill's effective date. The reduction can be a shortening of the sentence, a reduction in the degree of the felony or misdemeanor conviction, or any change that shortens or makes a less stringent the penalty. The bill requires the AG to review all bills to determine if they include a reduction in a penalty, forfeiture, or punishment for an offense. If the AG does determine a bill will implement a reduction, the AG must send a notice to DRC alerting them to the reduction.
HB 555 Full Text:
The OACDL offers its support to these bills as SB 159 offers a practical common sense solution to an ambiguous legal situation and HB 555 codifies and clarifies potential confusion involving sentencing issues.