Compulsory Process


Franklin County Criminal Law Casebook

Reproduced with permission from:
Timothy E. Pierce and the Franklin County Public Defender Office

Sixth Amendment, U.S. Constitution -- "In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall...have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor..." Same right provided by Article I, Sec. 10, Ohio Constitution.
State v. Moesle, 181 Ohio App. 3d 696, 2009-Ohio-1326 – Denial of compulsory process for trial court not to issue a capias warrant for the arrest of an accountant under a subpoena duces tecum to produce company tax records. Show cause hearing after the trial was not an appropriate response. While the defense did not make a proffer as to what testimony ad records would have shown, the purpose of the subpoena was apparent from the context.
State v. Ducey, Franklin App. No. 03AP-944, 2004-Ohio-3833 -- It was an abuse of discretion and denial of compulsory process to not issue a capias warrant for a witness who appeared on the first day of trial, but did not return the following day.
State v. Brock, Montgomery App. No. C.A. 19291, 2002-Ohio-7292 -- While there was sufficient indication that a subpoena had been served, and might be enforced through a capias warrant, uncertainty about how long a trial in progress might be delayed leads to conclusion further delay was not an abuse of discretion. Court did allow some time to produce the witness. Defendant's failure to further request a mistrial waived right to claim prejudice from failure to issue warrant. See dissent.
State v. McIntosh, Hamilton App. No. C-020593, 2003-Ohio-3824 -- Substantiated claim that the state entered into plea bargains with three codefendants which made them unavailable as defense witnesses requires an evidentiary hearing on whether postconviction relief should be granted. "The Sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution and Section 10, Article I of the Ohio Constitution preserve to a criminal accused the right to present witnesses in his defense and to compel their attendance at trial."
State v. Wilson, Cuyahoga App. No. 82770, 2004-Ohio-499 -- Defendant appealed the imposition of maximum and consecutive sentences following a plea bargain dropping numerous counts. Sua sponte the court of appeals reverses, finding plain error in failure to advise regarding the right to compulsory process. It is not enough to merely mention 'the right to bring in witnesses to this courtroom to testify for your defense." There must be advice as to the right to have a subpoena enforced.
Washington v. Texas (1967), 388 U.S. 14 -- State law which prevented defendant from calling accused accomplice as a witness constituted a denial of the right to compulsory process. At p. 19: "The right to offer the testimony of witnesses, and to compel their attendance, if necessary, is in plain terms the right to present a defense, the right to present the defendant's version of the facts as well as the prosecution's so it may determine where the truth lies...The right is a fundamental element of due process of law."
Crane v. Kentucky (1986), 476 U.S. 683 -- It is a denial of compulsory process to deny a defendant, whose confession has been held admissible, the opportunity to present evidence as to the manner in which the confession was obtained, as such evidence bears on both voluntariness and credibility.
Pennsylvania v. Ritchie (1987), 480 U.S. 39 -- The Compulsory Process Clause of the Sixth Amendment applies to securing the attendance of witnesses at trial, but not to the discovery of potential witnesses, such claims being evaluated under the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. (e.g. Brady material.)
Taylor v. Illinois (1988), 484 U.S. 400 -- While the Compulsory Process Clause of the Sixth Amendment generally should prevent the entire exclusion of testimony by defense witnesses as a discovery sanction, exclusion may be warranted if the violations are willful and calculated either to obtain a tactical advantage, or to conceal a plan to present fabricated testimony.
Rock v. Arkansas (1987), 483 U.S. 44 -- A state rule excluding all hypnotically enhanced testimony may not be applied to prevent a defendant from testifying on her own behalf.
State v. Kirk (1995), 72 Ohio St. 3d 564 -- The right to compulsory process is not denied when the court prevents a witness who intends to exercise his Fifth Amendment privilege from taking the stand, if that witness will exercise the privilege and offer no testimony.
State v. Denis (1997), 117 Ohio App. 3d 442 -- Domestic violence defendant wished to introduce court records pertaining to complaints filed against him by ex-wife and her current husband. Court quashed subpoenas. Held to violate defendant's right to compulsory process. Records were relevant to establish bias, and also bore on credibility of the testimony of alleged victim.
State v. Clements (1994), 98 Ohio App. 3d 797 -- No compulsory process violation found where a deputy was directed to attempt to locate witness who did not appear on subpoena. No abuse of discretion in denying continuance demonstrated since counsel's failed to make a proffer as to the nature of the testimony of missing witness.
State v. Lane (1979), 60 Ohio St. 2d 112, 117-119 and paragraph one of the syllabus -- A trial conducted within prison walls abridges the defendant's right to a fair trial, among other reasons, because it adversely affects his ability to secure witnesses on his behalf.

Publishing Information

Published by Timothy E. Pierce
Copyright © Franklin County Public Defender and Timothy E. Pierce, 2015
Contents may not be duplicated without express permission.