Death Penalty Department

"[R]esearchers have found convincing evidence that, in the past three decades, innocent people have been executed."
Justice Stephen Breyer's dissent, Glossip v. Gross, 135 S. Ct. 2726 (2015)

About the Death Penalty Department

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.

Direct Appeals

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.

Most Recent

Ohio's former prisons chief: 'The death penalty isn't worth fixing'
Former Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections Director Terry Collins told WCPO Cincinnati on Wednesday that Ohio's death penalty "isn't worth fixing."
Shine Light on Executions
Most irrevocable act government undertakes should be transparent.
Flawed Arizona execution must force another look at Ohio's death cocktail
Another execution. Another debacle. Another debate.
Gov. Kasich should move to abolish executions, not schedule them anew: editorial
A federal lawsuit before Judge Gregory Frost in Columbus raises serious questions about whether Ohio's lethal-injection protocol is so flawed that it can result in unconstitutionally painful and lingering deaths.
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