Thursday, February 4, 2010
From the web page of the Ohio Supreme Court:
The Supreme Court of Ohio today dismissed a disciplinary complaint alleging professional misconduct by [a] Logan County assistant prosecutor...The Court’s decision reversed findings of disciplinary rule violations by the Board of Commissioners on Grievances & Discipline.
In a 6-1 per curiam opinion, the Court concluded that [the prosecutor's] acts and omissions in not disclosing the contents of two documents to the defendant in a juvenile rape case did not violate her legal obligations as a prosecutor or her ethical duties as an attorney. The undisclosed documents were reports summarizing the victim’s statements about the crime during interviews with a social worker and a sheriff’s deputy.
The majority opinion was joined by Justices Paul E. Pfeifer, Evelyn Lundberg Stratton, Maureen O’Connor, Terrence O’Donnell, Judith Ann Lanzinger and Robert R. Cupp.
Chief Justice Thomas J. Moyer entered a dissent stating that in his view the majority erred by evaluating [the prosecutor's] conduct in light of the state’s rules of criminal procedure and court decisions defining defendants’ due process rights, rather than applying the more rigorous disclosure standard set by Rule 7-103(B) of the Code of Professional Responsibility. The Chief Justice wrote that he would affirm the rule violations found by the disciplinary board and impose the board’s recommended sanction of a 12-month license suspension with six months stayed on conditions.
The accused attorney was the chief assistant prosecutor of Logan County. The charges involved two instances of alleged forced sex. The victim had described the incidents in counseling and the therapist had reported the allegations as required by statute. The prosecutor had not disclose two reports that the court here found to constitute only impeachment evidence. Because the defendant pleaded guilty, the court found no obligation on the prosecutor's part to disclose the evidence prior to trial, but the majority ruling "should not be construed as an endorsement of respondent's nondisclosure of the reports."
Well, it's not much of a condemnation either.
The opinion of the court is linked here. (Mike Frisch)