Monday, October 27, 2014

City Law Director Works with the Public


Q:       What are the civil law duties of a city law director? 
A:        Ohio law authorizes the office of a director of law for both cities and villages. The city
law director typically is paid a salary from public funds. The term of office and duties are specified in local city charters that differ from the state statute.
The law director represents the municipality as its attorney, advises all municipal officers on issues of law, and prepares all contracts and other legal instruments, including approval of city council resolutions. Typically a city contract does not take effect unless the law director approves and signs it. 
The law director also may bring suit in court to collect funds owed to the city, and will defend the city anytime someone (including a former city employee) sues the city. 

Q:       What criminal court duties does the city law director have?
A:        If the city operates a mayor’s court, the city law director or the law director’s assistant serves as the prosecuting attorney.
In a municipal court or county court with county-wide jurisdiction, the city law director of the county seat may serve as municipal court prosecutor, even if the crime being prosecuted originated in a separate city. The municipal court handles all non-felony crimes, which most often are automobile offenses such as speeding tickets or drunk-driving charges.

Q:       Who is the city law director’s client?
A:        While the law director advises all municipal employees and officers, the “city,” as a corporate entity, is considered the lawyer’s “client.” Rather than to simply follow the instructions of a mayor or city council, the law director must exercise independent judgment in the best interests of the city as client.

Q:       May the mayor or city council hire additional lawyers?
A:        No. Only the law director has the authority to hire outside counsel or additional lawyers and assistants as necessary, with funds appropriated for the law director’s use from the city’s budget.

Q:       What does the law director do if a city official violates the law?
A:        Any person may ask the city law director to file for an injunction in court, to prevent the city from misapplying funds, abusing the corporate powers, or making an illegal contract. The city law director also can file for a “writ of mandamus,” a court order used when a public official to fails to properly perform the duties of his or her office.

Q:       What if a city law director refuses to file suit against a city official who is violating the law?
A:        If the law director fails to act, then any city taxpayer, after first sending a written request to the law director, may bring a “taxpayer’s suit” on behalf of the city.  If the lawsuit is successful, the taxpayer may be able to recover any attorney fees. 

Q:       Must a city follow all state laws?
A:        Ohio cities enjoy an Ohio Constitutional exception to following state law known as “home rule.” This allows cities to enact local law to reflect city preferences, where state law may be silent or different. 
A typical exercise of home rule is whether city government will be headed by a city manager or by an elected mayor, a matter for local citizens to choose without affecting non-residents. For instance, a city may create a domestic partner registry as long as the city creates no obligation upon registrants, the law is administered only within the city, and the law has no effect outside the city.
However, the city may not enact a local preference if the state law on the subject is a general law or the state’s exercise of a police power.  For example, a city may NOT change the election date for city voters for state or county officials, however. Also, a city may not change the jurisdiction of state courts, and it may not change utility laws relating to multi-jurisdictional utilities such as gas lines or electric transmission lines.

Q:       Must the city law director give me access to public records if I ask for them?
A:        Ohio’s Public Record Law says that all public officials must make all public records available within a reasonable time to any person requesting the records. You do not need to put your request in writing, and you may access such records, if your request is reasonable, simply by walking into a public office and asking for them. Only records that the law expressly exempts are not considered “public” records for purposes of public access.
As a practical matter, it is more likely that a public records request will be filled in a timely and complete way if you make your request in writing to the city law director. Then the law director can advise the appropriate record-keeper and coordinate a timely response.

This “Law You Can Use” legal information article was provided by the Ohio State Bar Association (OSBA). It was prepared by Luther L. Liggett, Jr., former Grandview Heights city attorney. Articles appearing in this column are intended to provide broad, general information about the law.  Before applying this information to a specific legal problem, readers are urged to seek advice from an attorney

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Monday, October 20, 2014

Depositions: What Are They and How Do They Work?


Q:       I have been asked to appear at a deposition as a witness in a civil case. What is a deposition?
A:        A deposition is a procedure before trial where one party to litigation gathers facts by asking the other party or non-party witnesses to answer questions. If you are called to answer questions at a deposition, you will be known as the “deponent.”  Examinations are typically made by asking oral questions, but written questions also may be used. A deposition is typically conducted outside of a courtroom—often in an attorney’s office—but you will testify under oath as you would in court.

Q:       May I have an attorney represent me at the deposition?
A:        Yes; you are allowed, but not required, to have an attorney represent you when you are deposed. Usually, a person who is being deposed as a party to a case chooses to have representation. You probably will not need representation if you are not a party and it is unlikely you will be named as a party to the litigation, but many people choose to be represented whether or not they are parties to the case.

Q:       Who will be with me at the deposition?
A:        Your attorney (if you want representation) and the parties’ attorney(s) will be present, and a stenographer and/or a videographer will record the questions and answers. The parties to the case are permitted, but not required, to be present, and if one of the parties is a business or other organization, a representative may appear on behalf of the business or organization. A deposition does not typically take place before a judge, but you should testify as though you were testifying in a courtroom before a judge and jury. 

Q:       Will I be paid for my time?
A:        As a non-party witness, you may be entitled to an attendance fee and mileage, depending on whether the matter is a federal or state court case, and the amount of travel required. The mileage and attendance fees are set by law. Parties to the case are not compensated for the time and travel associated with their depositions.   

Q:       What should I know before going to a deposition?
A:        When answering questions, always be truthful. Be sure you understand each question, or ask for clarification if you do not. You do not need to volunteer information; you only need to answer the question asked.

Q:       What if I do not know the answer to a question?
A:        Do not speculate or guess. Instead, tell the examiner you do not know the answer.

Q:       If my attorney objects to a question during the deposition, must I still answer it?
A:        Yes. Your attorney may object to a question so the judge may later rule on whether the question and/or answer was proper and should be admissible at trial. If your attorney instructs you to not answer a question, do not answer it, but if your attorney merely objects to the question, you should answer.  

Q:       How is a deposition transcript used?
A:        A deposition transcript may be used instead of a witness’s live testimony when the witness is considered “unavailable” at trial (if, for example, the witness is deceased or lives outside of the trial court’s jurisdiction and cannot be compelled to appear). A deposition transcript also may be used to impeach a witness who testifies at trial. Attorneys may, for example, point out contradictions between the witnesses’ deposition testimony and trial testimony, or contradictions between the witness’ deposition testimony and other evidence in the case.  

Q:       What if the opposing attorney does not ask me to testify about something I want to share?
A:        Once the opposing attorney examines you, your attorney may, but is not required to, ask you questions. Your attorney may decide to wait until the trial to ask questions, so do not be concerned if questions you consider to be important were not asked during deposition.  

Q:       What should I do if my deposition transcript contains errors?
A:        A deposition transcript may contain transcription errors and/or testimonial errors. A transcription error is a mistake, such as a misspelling or misuse of a word, which the stenographer might make when recording the testimony. A testimonial error occurs when the stenographer correctly records your testimony, but the testimony itself is inaccurate. For example, you may have testified during your deposition that the automobile accident occurred on a Wednesday, but later discovered that it actually took place on a Thursday. Both transcription and testimonial errors should be corrected. A document known as an “errata” sheet may be used to correct these transcript errors. 

This “Law You Can Use” column was provided by the Ohio State Bar Association. It was prepared by Cleveland attorney Terry Brennan, a partner at Baker Hostetler. Articles appearing in this column are intended to provide broad, general information about the law. Before applying this information to a specific legal problem, readers are urged to seek advice from an attorney.

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Monday, October 13, 2014

What You Should Know about Guns in Schools


Since the late 1990s when school shootings first rose to the forefront of national concern in the United States, school districts have struggled to find effective ways to keep students and staff safe while on school property. More recent events such as the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting have renewed concerns about school safety, and a number of state legislators and gun advocates across the country have campaigned for arming school staff. Ohio law currently includes an exception allowing certain individuals to carry concealed weapons on school grounds. School boards should assess the associated risks and consequences.

Q:       In Ohio, are there restrictions on who can possess, purchase, or carry firearms?
            A:        Yes. In Ohio, a person must be at least 21 years old to purchase a handgun, and at least 18 to purchase other firearms such as rifles and shotguns. Ohio law also prohibits individuals who are considered fugitives of the law or who have committed certain crimes to acquire or carry a firearm. Individuals who are dependent on drugs or alcohol or who are considered mentally incompetent are subject to the same prohibitions. In order to lawfully carry a concealed handgun, a person must obtain a concealed handgun license.                     

Q:       Is it legal for members of the public to bring concealed weapons on to school property?
A:        In general, it is a crime under state and federal law for a person to convey, attempt to convey, or possess a deadly weapon such as a gun in a school safety zone. A school safety zone encompasses school buildings and premises, school activities and school buses owned or operated by a city, local, exempted village, joint vocational or community school board of education or the governing board of an educational service center. This prohibition does not apply to law enforcement officers.  There are also a few limited exceptions for possession of guns during approved programs or instructional demonstrations, as well as for individuals who have a carry concealed permit and who enter a school safety zone to pick up a student. 

Q:       Can a board of education grant any exceptions to these rules?
A:        Ohio is one of a number of states that grants a public school district board of education the discretion to authorize certain individuals to carry concealed weapons on school grounds. Under Ohio Revised Code § 2923.122, a board of education may pass a resolution that permits certain individuals to carry a concealed weapon while on school property. Boards of education may use this exception to authorize members of the school staff to carry guns while at school.
   
Q:       What are the possible risks and consequences of arming school staff?
A:        While a number of schools in Ohio and throughout the country have considered arming staff as a school safety measure, there are a number of risks a school district board of education should consider when making such a decision. First, there is always a chance that a student or visitor will gain access to or control of a gun that is on school property and injure someone as a result. Second, school employees typically do not have access to the same level of training provided to law enforcement officers about use of deadly force against those, including children, who pose a safety threat. Third, many school employees do not want the responsibility of carrying a gun in school or being required to use a gun against someone else. For this reason, many teachers’ unions have lobbied against bills that would permit or even require teachers to possess guns during the school day. Fourth, school districts risk the possibility that employees will misuse a gun in their possession, and risk injuring colleagues or students. Finally, insurance companies may raise premiums or even revoke coverage for schools that arm staff members.     

This “Law You Can Use” consumer legal information article was provided by the Ohio State Bar Association. It was prepared by William Deters and Pamela Leist, both attorneys with the Cincinnati firm of Ennis, Roberts & Fischer Co., LPA. Articles appearing in this column are intended to provide broad, general information about the law. Before applying this information to a specific legal problem, readers are urged to seek advice from an attorney

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Monday, October 6, 2014

Local, State and Federal Governments Consider LGBT Workplace Rights

Currently, no federal or Ohio statutes specifically prohibit job discrimination based on sexual orientation and/or gender identity in the private sector (or in many parts of the public sector). However, legislative efforts are underway on local, state and federal levels to protect lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual (LGBT) individuals in the workplace.

Q:       What is being done on the federal level to address LGBT workplace rights?
A:        On the federal level, a current executive order prohibits discrimination against federal government employees based solely on sexual orientation, and another executive order prohibits job discrimination by federal contractors on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. In addition, the U.S. Congress is considering the Employee Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), which would protect all employees (private and public sector) from job discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

Q:       What is the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s (EEOC) position on federal laws that protect LGBT rights in the workplace?
A:        Several cases that the U.S. EEOC has decided in recent years demonstrate its position relative to LGBT rights. In 2012, the Commission ruled in Macy v. Dept. of Justice that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination against an individual on the basis of gender identity or transgender status, applied to the case.
            In 2013, the Commission ruled in Brooker v. U.S. Postal Service that lesbian, bisexual and gay individuals may experience discrimination on the basis of sex, including, but not limited to, sexual harassment, and that sex discrimination includes adverse actions (such as employment restrictions) taken because of someone’s failure to conform to sex-stereotypes.
            The Commission also takes the position that lesbian, gay and bisexual individuals have a right to file a sex discrimination complaint through the federal sector EEO complaint process.


Q:       Does any Ohio law prohibit LGBT workplace discrimination?
A:        No. There is currently no state law that addresses LGBT workplace discrimination. However, Governor Kasich signed an executive order that prohibits discrimination against state government employees on the basis of sexual orientation. This order does not, however, prohibit discrimination on the basis of gender identity.

Q:       What is being done at the local level to help protect LGBT employees?
A:        Within Ohio, a dozen municipalities (including most of the state’s larger cities) now prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and/or gender identity in private and public employment. These include the cities of Athens, Bowling Green, Canton, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus, Coshocton, Dayton, Newark, Oxford, Toledo and the Village of Yellow Springs.
            Also, five other Ohio municipalities currently prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and/or gender identity in public employment only. These include the cities of Akron, Cleveland, Heights, Gahanna, Hamilton and Oberlin.

This “Law You Can Use” article was provided by the Ohio State Bar Association. It was prepared by Susan Keating Anderson, a partner in the Education Law Practice Group of Cleveland-based Walter | Haverfield, LLP. Articles appearing in this column are intended to provide broad, general information about the law. Before applying this information to a specific legal problem, readers are urged to seek advice from an attorney.

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Monday, September 29, 2014

Ohio’s Innocence Protection Act Addresses Police Interrogation and Lineup Procedures


Q:       What does Ohio law say about how police interrogations and lineups are conducted?
A:        Senate Bill 77 (SB 77), which became effective on July 6, 2010, is a comprehensive criminal justice reform law. Its goal was to help prevent wrongful convictions and to make it easier to obtain DNA testing when DNA testing could undermine confidence in a “guilty” verdict. In addition to its DNA testing provisions, the law reforms police interrogations and lineups in order to assist in preventing wrongful convictions. This article addresses the parts of the law pertaining to police interrogations and lineups.

Q:       Why did SB 77 change how line-ups and interrogations were done in criminal cases?
A:        DNA testing does not solve the problem of wrongful convictions. Biological evidence is found in less than 10 percent of criminal cases. However, the same factors lead to wrongful convictions, regardless of the presence of biological evidence.  These factors can also confound investigations from the earliest stages, and critical time is lost while police are distracted from the real perpetrator, focusing instead on building the case against an innocent person.
            Mistaken eyewitness identifications contributed to approximately 72 percent of the 317 wrongful convictions in the United States that have been overturned by post-conviction DNA evidence. Many variables affect the reliability of an eyewitness identification, including:  the type of lineup used; the selection of “fillers” (members of a lineup or photo array who are not the suspect); blind administration; instructions to witnesses before identification procedures; administration of lineups or photo arrays; and communication with witnesses after they make an identification. Each of the above variables impacts the reliability of an eyewitness identification. For example, a study of the first 250 DNA exonerations showed that mistaken eyewitness identification was a factor in 160 of those cases, and that suggestive remarks to the witness by law enforcement was a factor in 28 percent of the 160 cases. Such remarks are often made as a result of the officer’s familiarity with the case.
            In about 30 percent of DNA exoneration cases, innocent defendants made incriminating statements, delivered outright confessions, or pled guilty. These cases show that confessions are sometimes motivated by external influences rather than internal knowledge or actual guilt. Researchers have determined that these factors contribute to or cause false confessions:
• real or perceived intimidation of the suspect by law enforcement;
• use of force or perceived threat of force by law enforcement during interrogation;
• compromised reasoning ability of the suspect, due to exhaustion, stress, hunger, substance use, and, in some cases, mental limitations, or limited education;
• devious interrogation techniques, such as untrue statements about the presence of incriminating evidence;
• the suspect’s fear that failure to confess will yield a harsher punishment.

            Electronic recording helps provide an objective record of what happened. The law does not specify how recording should be done, but research suggests these “best practices”:
·       The recording should show both the suspect and the interrogator or just the interrogator, and should record the entire interrogation.
·        If the video only shows the suspect, the jury should only be given the audio portion or the transcripts from the interview.
            Research suggests that jurors tend to disregard the interrogator’s appearance when the video camera is fixed upon the suspect. This may lead jurors to conclude that the suspect confessed freely, even when that confession is false. Recording can also help law enforcement with the investigation and prevent disputes about what occurred during interrogation.

Q:       How has SB 77 affected identification lineups in criminal cases?
A:        SB 77 outlines a number of specific procedures for law enforcement agencies conducting live or photo lineups to control the variables impacting the reliability of eyewitness identifications. These procedures are designed to help the witness identify the perpetrator rather than an innocent person in the line-up that looks most like the perpetrator. SB 77 also says that the officer conducting the line-up must not know the suspect’s identity or which lineup member the eyewitness is viewing, unless the officer can give a good reason why this requirement is not practical in the particular situation. The jury may consider whether an eyewitness identification is reliable based on whether a lineup was conducted according to the procedures described in SB 77.

Q:       What does SB 77 say about interrogations of suspects?
A:        SB 77 presumes that all recorded statements in criminal cases are voluntary if they occur in a place of detention and are made by a person suspected of aggravated murder, murder, voluntary manslaughter, involuntary manslaughter, first- or second-degree felonious aggravated vehicular homicide, rape or sexual battery. The law does not require interrogations to be recorded, but law enforcement personnel must keep any audio and audio-visual recordings until all appeals, and post-conviction relief proceedings (both state and federal) are finished, or the time limit for appeals has passed. The defendant can ask the court to keep the recordings longer.

This “Law You Can Use” column was provided by the Ohio State Bar Association (OSBA).  It was prepared by attorney Carrie Wood of the Ohio Public Defender’s Office. The column offers general information about the law.  Seek an attorney’s advice before applying this information to a legal problem.

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Monday, September 22, 2014

Ohio’s Innocence Protection Act Expands Access to DNA Testing after Conviction


Q:       What does Ohio law say about DNA testing?
A:        Senate Bill 77 became effective on July 6, 2010, and was hailed as one of the nation’s most comprehensive criminal justice reform packages. Its goal was to help prevent wrongful convictions and make it easier to obtain DNA testing when testing might undermine confidence in a “guilty” verdict. The provisions related to post-conviction DNA testing are as follows: 1) a requirement that DNA evidence be preserved for all “serious crimes”; and 2) expansion of Ohio’s post-conviction DNA testing law to include those released from prison but still under state supervision. The legislature also re-defined “definitive DNA test” to allow applicants to request post-conviction DNA testing, even if testing was already done, in case new DNA technology might reveal new information. This article addresses only the provisions of the law regarding DNA evidence.

Q:       How might DNA testing help expose a wrongful conviction?
A:        A wrongful conviction might be exposed if, for example, DNA evidence is certain or highly likely to contain biological evidence from the perpetrator(s) of the crime.   
            Or, if the prosecutor linked evidence to a defendant at trial and DNA testing can disprove the purported link, and it may also undermine the reliability of other evidence in the original case. DNA testing in such cases may not only exclude the defendant, but also identify another individual as the source.  In other cases, even an alternate suspect’s DNA found on any item from the crime scene may help exonerate the defendant and point to the alternate suspect as the perpetrator.
            Finally, a wrongful conviction might also be exposed in a case where the perpetrator left biological material on several different items. If DNA testing can show that the perpetrator likely touched items from the crime scene, and  that they all have the same profile, which does not match the defendant’s, then the defendant's innocence may be established and  the perpetrator’s guilt revealed. 
              
Q:       What “serious crimes” qualify for preservation of DNA evidence?
A:        “Serious crimes” such as murders or aggravated murder require that biological evidence be kept as long as the crime remains unsolved. Biological evidence must be kept for 30 years in unsolved cases involving: voluntary manslaughter; involuntary manslaughter; aggravated vehicular homicide, vehicular homicide, and vehicular manslaughter when they are felonies of the first or second degree; rape; attempted rape; sexual battery; and gross sexual imposition where the victim is underage.
            Biological evidence must be kept for 30 years or until incarceration or supervision expires (whichever is shorter) for someone who has been convicted of or pleads guilty to a “serious crime,” or is adjudicated a delinquent child. If, after 30 years, the person remains incarcerated, the biological evidence is kept until the person is released or dies. If someone pleads guilty or no contest and appeals have been exhausted, the state may destroy the evidence five years after the plea unless the person who pled asks the court to keep the evidence and the court agrees. These requirements apply to evidence the state possessed when Senate Bill 77 was enacted, and to evidence gathered since.

 Q:      Who must submit DNA to the state?
A:        Anyone who is at least 18 years old and was arrested on or after July 1, 2011 for a felony offense, and anyone presently incarcerated or under community control sanctions for a felony offense, must submit to DNA collection. DNA also must be collected from individuals who commit these misdemeanor offenses: 1) attempt to commit, or complicity in committing, unlawful sexual conduct with a minor; 2) a misdemeanor offense arising from a charge of aggravated murder, murder, kidnapping, rape, sexual battery, unlawful sexual conduct with a minor, gross sexual imposition, aggravated burglary; 3) a misdemeanor offense of interference with child custody that would have been considered kidnapping or extortion before July 1, 1996; and/or 4) a sexually oriented or child-victim misdemeanor offense.

Q:       I was convicted of a felony offense. Can I request DNA testing to challenge my conviction?
A:        You, as an offender, may request state-funded DNA testing if a judge or jury convicted you of a felony offense, and one of the following applies: 1) you are serving a prison term, have been paroled, are on probation or post-release control, or you have been released from prison under a term of community control sanction for that felony; 2) you were sentenced to and are under community control sanction for that felony; 3) the felony was a sexually oriented offense or child-victim oriented offense, and you must register as a sex offender. You are not eligible to apply for state-funded DNA testing if you pled guilty or no contest, but if you do not qualify for state-funded testing, you can seek post-conviction DNA testing through other means.

This “Law You Can Use” column was provided by the Ohio State Bar Association (OSBA).  It was prepared by attorney Carrie Wood of the Ohio Public Defender’s Office.  The column offers general information about the law.  Seek an attorney’s advice before applying this information to a legal problem.

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Monday, September 15, 2014

What You Should Know about Ohio’s Post-Conviction Law


Q:       What is post-conviction relief?
A:        Post-conviction relief allows a person who has been convicted of a criminal offense or who a court has determined to be a delinquent child to challenge the conviction with off-the-record evidence.  Ohio’s law (Ohio Revised Code, Section 2953.21) requires that the person filing a petition for post-conviction relief must: 1) have been either convicted of a criminal offense or must be a child who the court has determined to be delinquent; 2) claim in the petition that a denial of his/her constitutional rights under either the Ohio or United States constitutions occurred  before trial, at trial, or during the pleading process; 3)  have attached to the petition documentary, off-the-record, support to prove that his or her rights were violated; and 4) raise all claims that may apply in the petition; any claim not raised in the petition will not be considered either then or in the future, assuming it could have been raised at that time.

Q:       How do I know if my constitutional rights have been denied?
A:        If you want to petition for post-conviction relief, you must show that you were denied rights the Constitution guarantees. For instance, you have the right to be effectively represented by counsel at trial, as well as the right to a fair trial and fair process surrounding any plea, the right to an unbiased jury, and the right to defend yourself. 

Q:       Where would I get off-the-record documentary support to put in my petition?
A:        Off-the-record documentary evidence is found outside of the trial court record (what happened inside the courtroom and all trial court filings) that helps to show that your constitutional rights were violated. For instance, if you are claiming that your lawyer failed to call an important witness in your defense, then you could attach an affidavit of that witness to support your allegation. Or, if you are alleging that the prosecutor failed to turn over documents to the defense at trial that would have helped you, then you could attach the relevant documents or records that should have been turned over. To uncover this evidence, you must investigate the case, which may include looking back to the record of the case, talking to witnesses, collecting relevant records, and/or hiring relevant experts. It is wise to request “discovery” and an evidentiary hearing so the court can consider additional information you may have that would help your case.

Q:       How do I file a post-conviction relief petition?
A:        You must file the petition in the trial court that sentenced you. The petition is due no later than 180 days after your trial transcript is filed in the court of appeals in the direct appeal case. If neither you nor your attorney filed a direct appeal of your conviction, then you must file your petition no later than 180 days after a direct appeal notice would have been due. That typically means that your post-conviction relief petition would be due 210 days (180 days + 30 days) after the trial court has sentenced you. The claims may not be more than three pages long, but that page limit does not include the documentary support you will be attaching. 

Q:       How long does the prosecutor have to respond to the allegations in the petition? Can a petition be amended after it’s filed?
A:        The prosecuting attorney must respond to the petition within 10 days of its filing unless he or she can show a good reason for extending that time period. You may amend a petition at any time before the prosecutor files a response. This means you can supplement your previously-filed petition with anything new you discover. Once the prosecutor has filed a response, you can only amend if you first ask the trial court and the court gives you permission.

Q:       What will the court look at in considering the petition?
A:        The court must consider the entire record of the case in deciding whether to grant the post-conviction appeal. The law also says that, unless the contents of the petition and the files and records of the case make it obvious that the person is not entitled to relief, the court must hold a prompt hearing on the issues before granting or denying relief.  

This “Law You Can Use” column was provided by the Ohio State Bar Association (OSBA). It was prepared by attorney Kimberly Rigby at the Office of the Ohio Public Defender. The column offers general information about the law. Seek an attorney’s advice before applying this information to a legal problem.

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