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Sunday, October 07, 2007

Cincy Enquirer: Amid Death Penalty Debate, It Didn't Report A Death Sentence Was Overturned

CINCINNATI (TDB) -- The Cincinnati Enquirer today carries a lengthy defense of capital punishment in Ohio by Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters, whose Op-Ed article appears under the title "Criticism of Ohio's death penalty is way off the mark." Curiously, the Gannet Co. Inc. morning daily failed to report this weekend that the Ohio Supreme Court overturned a death penalty conviction because favorable evidence was withheld from the defense by prosecutors in Cleveland.

Deters took issue with an American Bar Association study issued Sept. 25 that calls for a moratorium on death sentences in Ohio. The Ohio Supreme Court vacated the aggravated murder conviction of Vernon Brown, saying he deserved a new trial because the original was not fair.

"We are not convinced, however, that Brown's s guilty verdicts and death sentences are worthy of confidence, for the errors by both the prosecution and defense cause us to question whether the jury's conclusions could have been fairly reached. The prosecution breached its duty to provide to the defense all evidence material to Brown's guilt or innocence. The defense attorney's also erred by failing to provide effective assistance of counsel."

The unanimous decision by the state's high court in Columbus cited the 1963 ruling in Brady v. Maryland by the United States Supreme Court. It said any evidence discovered by the state favorable to a defendant -- and is material to the case -- must be provided to the defense. In its call for a moratorium on capital punishment in Ohio, the American Bar Association expressed concern the death pealty does not guarantee accuracy, or fairness and is racially biased against blacks.

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