OPD News


Ohio Public Defender: News Archives

Below is an archive of all news and announcements released by the Office of the Ohio Public Defender. Please see our home page for our most recent news releases.

Our Response to the Shooting Death of Jordan Edwards

The Wrongful Conviction Project and the Office of the Ohio Public Defender support and adopt the statement released by the Innocence Project on the death of an unarmed black youth killed recently by police in Dallas. 

“While the Innocence Project’s work focuses on freeing those who were wrongly convicted of crimes they didn’t commit, we’ve learned that these injustices often start at the earliest stages of police investigation and reflect the same bias and racism—implicit and certainly explicit—that we see at other points in the criminal justice system.”

Click here to read the full statement by the Innocence Project. 

The staff at the Wrongful Conviction Project and the Office of the Ohio Public Defender express our deep sadness and heartfelt sympathy to the family and loved ones of Jordan Edwards. The senseless death of Jordan Edwards is a solemn reminder of those in our own community who have experienced violence and lost loved ones at the hands of law enforcement. We call upon all of those involved in the criminal justice system in Columbus, and throughout Ohio, to respond to this crisis.

Like the Innocence Project, we, too, ask how many more people will suffer from this type of needless violence? When the police, as agents of the criminal justice system, violate the law, harming and even killing citizens of our community, it is done in opposition to their duty as officers, and it is contrary to the rights of our citizens. This sort of violence, predominantly against minority members of our community, is not only indicative of race and law enforcement issues, but also issues within our criminal justice system as a whole. As fellow members of the criminal justice system, we must be committed to working together to address and correct these issues, and to assert ourselves as stewards of fairness and equality within our flawed system of justice.

Upcoming Workshop: "Working with Clients with Mental Illness and Intellectual Disability"

This one-day course is free of charge and is offered by the Criminal Justice Coordinating Center of Excellence. The program is funded by the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services. The course is designed to provide tools, material, and knowledge to lawyers to better represent clients with mental illness or intellectual disabilities.
The course is open to public defenders and assigned counsel in counties that have passed a "Stepping Up" resolution. More details on the "Stepping Up" initiative here. For more information about the program, read the invitation here. Click here to register for the June 21 session, and click here to register for the June 23 session.

50th Anniversary of In re Gault: Proposed Juvenile Rule Change

May 15th, 2017 marks the 50th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark decision in In re Gault, 387 U.S. 1. In conjunction with this celebration, the Children’s Law Center, ACLU of Ohio, and Ohio Public Defender are requesting an amendment to Ohio Juvenile Rule of Procedure 3 to strengthen a child’s right to counsel. Read more about the proposed amendment, the amendment itself, a letter of support for the amendment from the National Juvenile Defender Center, and some statistics on the problem this rule aims to fix. Read on to learn more about the Gault decision.

In 1964, 15-year-old Gerald Gault was arrested by the Gila County, Arizona sheriff’s department for making lewd phone calls to his neighbor. Gerald’s parents were not notified of his arrest, and he was placed in detention without access to an attorney. At the juvenile court hearing, Gerald was afforded no due process rights, no counsel, and no advance notification of his charges. The juvenile court judge adjudicated Gerald delinquent and placed him in the State Industrial School for six years. An adult convicted of the same offense would only be subject to a $50 fine. Gerald appealed his case to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Writing for the majority, Justice Abe Fortas commented that that “Under our Constitution, the condition of being a boy does not justify a kangaroo court.” Through the Gault decision, the Supreme Court ensured that children accused of crimes have a right to defense counsel. The decision also provided due process rights to children, including the right to be notified of the allegations against the child, the right to cross-examine witnesses, and the right against self-incrimination.

This decision paved the way for children to have critical rights in juvenile court. But, in some jurisdictions in the U.S., children still appear in court without an attorney. While we commemorate this decision and the rights it provided, we know we must continue to fight for the rights of children. If you are interested in learning more about the Gault decision, the National Juvenile Defender Center launched a website for the 50th anniversary with information, events, and a statement of principles. The website is available here.

13th Annual Ohio Juvenile Defender Leadership Summit

For 13 years, the Office of the Ohio Public Defender and Children’s Law Center have partnered to bring Ohio’s juvenile defense bar together and work toward achieving the best outcomes for the children in Ohio’s juvenile justice system. This year, for the 13th annual summit, we are celebrating the 50th anniversary of the United States Supreme Court’s landmark decision In re Gault and the 10th anniversary of the Supreme Court of Ohio's In re C.S., which strengthened the right to counsel for Ohio’s youth. 

In addition, we are partnering with the Ohio Department of Youth Services and the Supreme Court of Ohio for a portion of this year's summit, bringing together the juvenile defense bar, DYS staff and administration, and members of the Ohio judiciary to convene about disparities and disproportionate contact in Ohio’s juvenile justice system and strategize about best practices to ensure a fair and equitable justice system for Ohio youth.

Twelve hours of continuing legal education have been requested. Notice of approval will be forthcoming. 

The non-refundable tuition fee for this year’s two-day summit is $150 and covers materials, a continental breakfast, lunch, and an afternoon snack, each day. Complete and sign the registration form, and return it to Terri Wilson via fax at (614) 644.9972, or email terri.wilson@opd.ohio.gov. Checks, made payable to the Ohio Public Defender, can be mailed to Terri Wilson at Office of the Ohio Public Defender, 250 E. Broad Street, Suite 1400, Columbus, Ohio, 43215. Registration deadline is May 5, 2017. 

13th Annual Ohio Juvenile Defender Leadership Summit
"In Celebration of Gault: Juvenile Defense 50 Years after the Guarantee"
May 31, 2017 – June 1, 2017
The Ohio State University Fawcett Center
2400 Olentangy River Road
Columbus, Ohio 43210

OPD Supporting National Guilty Plea Campaign

Of the 337 people who have been exonerated by DNA nationwide, nearly 10 percent had pleaded guilty to crimes they didn’t commit.

OPD and our Wrongful Conviction Project are participating in a national effort to raise awareness of this phenomenon, and to take the first steps in fixing the problem, the Guilty Plea Campaign. Follow OPD on Facebook and Twitter, and the Wrongful Conviction Project on Twitter to learn more about the Campaign.