Last month, the Ohio Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers President's Annual Superstar Seminar was held at the Historic Ohio Statehouse following the election of Attorney Jon Saia as OACDL President. Among the urgent topics discussed at the seminar was the return of the death penalty to Ohio.
As 10TV reports, a three-year court case over the chemicals used in Ohio executions has concluded, meaning the state is set to resume executions in January 2017. For many, the return of capital punishment to Ohio is alarming-including Joe D'Ambrosio, who sat on death row for 20 years before being exonerated. D'Ambrosio spoke at the OACDL seminar and to the press about his journey through our criminal justice system.
"Every day I expected them to come and open the doors [and say] 'we got the wrong guy. Sorry, go home,'" he told 10TV. "All I kept seeing was darkness. I'm like, if they don't listen to me, I'm done. I'm truly, truly done."
It wasn't until Father Neil Kookoothe, who has a law degree, agreed to look into D'Ambrosio's case and found significant gaps in the evidence implicating him. "There's a case of wrongful incarceration of a man on death row right here in Ohio," he said. "It was devastating to realize... a guy could lose his life and there's evidence here that he's not responsible for this." Kookoothe also spoke with D'Ambrosio at the OACDL seminar.
Fortunately, D'Ambrosio had the error in his case recognized and rectified, but many lawyers and advocates worry that other wrongly-accused individuals in Ohio may face great danger. Among these advocates is Ohio Supreme Court Justice Paul Pfeifer who, in 1981, wrote the Ohio death penalty law as a State Senator.
"I call it the death lottery," Pfeifer told 10TV. "A really bad lottery. Because depending on which county in this state you commit capital murder, makes all the difference in the world whether or not you'll face the death penalty at all."
The Ohio Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers makes criminal justice issues like these a priority, especially now at this crucial moment when Ohio executions are set to resume. Attorney Jon Saia and others in the OACDL will continue to confront these concerns, raise awareness, and ensure that those facing the death penalty have the resources they need to have their voices heard.
If you or a loved one have been accused of a serious crime, then the time to speak with knowledgeable and proven representation is now. At The Law Offices of Saia & Piatt, Inc., our renowned Columbus criminal defense attorneys are well-versed in how the state of Ohio pursues criminal convictions and how to thoroughly challenge those efforts both in and outside the courtroom.