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ABA urges death penalty moratorium in Ohio

[JURIST] The American Bar Association death penalty assessment team [ABA materials] has recommended [news release] a moratorium on the death penalty in Ohio, in a report [PDF text; executive summary, PDF] released Monday that cited major flaws in the state's administration of capital punishment [JURIST news archive]. The assessment team, composed of Ohio lawmakers, judges, and law professors, studied the state's death penalty system for approximately 30 months before releasing the report, which only recommends a moratorium until "problems can be corrected and fairness assured." The panel identified several problems [ABA fact sheet, DOC] including inadequate and inconsistent court-appointed representation, inadequate appellate review of claims of error, racial discrepancies in sentencing, and no implementation of the US Supreme Court ruling against executing the mentally retarded [Atkins v. Virginia text]. The ABA hopes that the report will encourage Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland [official website] to impose a moratorium until the report can be reviewed and the state can implement the report's recommendations. Ohio Prosecuting Attorneys Association executive director John Murphy on Monday called the report a "mugging of [the Ohio] justice system."

The Ohio assessment is one of several that the ABA has conducted since 2001. An assessment panel has also identified problems with death penalty practices in Georgia and Alabama [JURIST reports]. The ABA will next review capital punishment in Pennsylvania. AP has more.

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Paper Chase is JURIST's real-time legal news service, powered by a team of 30 law student reporters and editors led by law professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. As an educational service, Paper Chase is dedicated to presenting important legal news and materials rapidly, objectively and intelligibly in an accessible format.

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