Death Penalty Department attorneys focus on three areas of appeal: direct appeal, post-conviction, and federal habeas corpus. Working in this area of law requires expertise in the laws controlling state death penalty appeals, as well as federal civil procedure and the unique complexities of habeas corpus law.
When a defendant is sentenced to death, the case is appealed directly to the Supreme Court of Ohio. The direct appeal is limited to a review of matters contained in the record made in the trial court. New evidence cannot be raised in this appeal.
Post-conviction cases are taken under O.R.C. §2953.21, and ask the trial court to compare new evidence to the evidence presented at trial, to determine if the trial was fair and reliable, and if the death sentence was appropriate. New evidence presented in a post-conviction proceeding might include DNA evidence, evidence about the defendant's brain damage or mental condition, evidence not turned over by prosecutors or police, evidence of trial attorneys failing to provide effective assistance, and evidence about the defendant's background or history.
Federal Habeas Corpus
Habeas corpus is an appeal to the federal courts for wrongful conviction and unconstitutional imprisonment. There can be no habeas corpus appeal until the direct appeal and post-conviction petition are finished in state court. The direct appeal and post-conviction actions are then combined into one federal habeas corpus appeal.