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Ohio death penalty procedure to be reviewed

The Chief Justice of the Ohio Supreme Court, Maureen O'Connor [official profile], on Thursday announced the formation of a joint task force between the Supreme Court of Ohio and the Ohio State Bar Association [official websites] that will review the procedures [text] surrounding Ohio's death penalty [JURIST news archive] law. O'Connor indicated that the task force was being created not to judge or discuss whether the state should have the death penalty, but rather to ensure that the law is "administered in the most fair, efficient, and judicious manner possible." The task force will be chaired by Retired Judge James Brogan of the Ohio Second District Court of Appeals and will include judges, prosecuting attorneys, criminal defense counsel, legislators and academics. O'Connor indicated that the diverse backgrounds of the participants will "ensure that the criteria, laws, and procedures regarding the imposition of the death penalty in Ohio are fair, impartial, and balanced." The task force will be reviewing death penalty laws and procedures from other jurisdictions and analyzing the data and costs associated with those laws. They will also review information included in the American Bar Association's Death Penalty Moratorium Implementation Project [materials] in order to "identify areas in need of action and recommend the course of action."

In December 2010, the Ohio Supreme Court rejected a challenge [JURIST report] to the lethal injection method of execution and indicated that they would not hear further cases regarding lethal injection until the Ohio General Assembly [official website] explicitly expanded state review of death penalty cases. In November 2009, Ohio adopted a single-drug lethal injection protocol [JURIST report], replacing the previously used three-drug method. The single-drug lethal injection method has faced numerous challenges, with one case reaching the US Supreme Court [official website]. In March 2010, the Supreme Court refused [JURIST report] to stay the execution of an Ohio inmate challenging the state's single-drug execution protocol. Ohio conducted its first execution [JURIST report] using the new procedure in December 2009. The change in procedure came after the state undertook a review [JURIST report] of its lethal injection practices in September 2009, following the planned execution of inmate Romell Broom failed when a suitable vein for the drugs' administration could not be found.

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