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Legal Department

"Justice consists not in being neutral between right and wrong, but in finding out the right and upholding it, wherever found, against the wrong."

Theodore Roosevelt


Our Vision

Because our clients are why we are public defenders, we will strive to provide them with innovative, superior representation, and we will assist practitioners throughout Ohio to do the same for their clients. While remaining focused on achieving the best possible outcomes and advocating with professional integrity, we will ensure that our clients are heard, and that they are always treated with respect and compassion.

About the Legal Department

The Legal Department provides representation in non-capital, post-trial cases. The department consists of three sections: Appeals and Post-conviction, Intake, and Prison Legal Services.

Appeals and Post-conviction Section

The Appeals and Post-conviction Section typically represents clients who have already finished their trials, and who were previously represented by county public defenders or appointed counsel. Assistant public defenders review claims of unlawful imprisonment that have passed through the Intake Section, and determine whether those claims have arguable merit.

If a claim lacks merit, the attorney explains to the client why his or her claim has no merit. If a claim has arguable merit, the attorney uses state-of-the-art research tools, and, when appropriate, develops materials outside the trial record of the case. Then, with the assistance of support staff, the attorney litigates the claim in the appropriate courts.

There are more than 50,000 people in prison in Ohio. This section, despite facing considerable challenges in meeting the needs of persons requesting assistance, provides exceptional legal representation with the resources available.


The Intake Section screens claims of unlawful imprisonment from incarcerated persons and their family and friends. Attorneys and support staff in the Intake Section process and respond to all incoming mail and phone calls from those individuals seeking assistance from this office. The Section also manages the case opening and closing process for the Legal Department as well as the maintenance and storage of physical files for most of the agency.

Prison Legal Services Section

This section represents people on post-release control (PRC)  and parole supervision facing revocation hearings. We also represent incarcerated people at full parole board release hearings.  For newly incarcerated people, we provide orientation and legal materials addressing common questions and needs, which helps to explain people’s legal rights and release options. So that incarcerated people can better help themselves, we also provide similar materials to prison law libraries across the state.  Finally, we provide insight on legislative and administrative policy affecting incarcerated people and address various miscellaneous legal problems that incarcerated people bring to our attention.

Click here to download the Ohio Parole Toolkit.