STEUBENVILLE — As one of three state Supreme Court justices who cast dissenting votes in a decision regarding bail for defendants in criminal cases, Pat DeWine said he believes that the ruling sent the wrong message not only to criminals, but to those who might consider living or opening a business in the Buckeye State.
“If people don’t feel safe in our community, they’re not going to live there and come to work there,” said DeWine, who made several stops in eastern Ohio on Tuesday. His itinerary included a tour of the Bully Tools facilities in the Jefferson County Industrial Park.
Voters, he added, will have the opportunity to overturn the decision with the passage of No. 2 in the state’s Nov. 8 general election.
DeWine referenced a Jan. 4 ruling that “public safety, while of the utmost importance, is not a relevant factor in determining the amount of bail. A court cannot impose excessive bail for the purpose of keeping an accused in prison. »
The Supreme Court justices’ 4-3 decision came following an appeal by Justin DuBose, 26, of Colerain Township, whose attorney successfully appealed to the state Supreme Court. to get a lower bond for him.
According to various reports, a Hamilton County judge initially set bail at $1.5million for DuBose, who police say was one of three men involved in the shooting death of 22-year-old Shawn Green , July 18, 2020.
Police say the victim was shot in the head and a pound of marijuana was taken from his home.
A motion in local court to reduce bail was successful until prosecutors presented photos of DuBose with multiple guns and testimony from a victim’s family member that they did not feel with DuBose. under caution.
When the Hamilton County judge reset DuBose’s bond to $1.5 million, his attorney appealed to the state Supreme Court and successfully lowered it again to $500,000.
DeWine, who was one of three state Supreme Court justices to vote against the decision, considers it an overreach on the part of the Supreme Court.
“The local judges know the community and the people in front of them better than the seven of us and we have to trust the local judges to make those decisions,” he said.
In support of its position, the state Supreme Court said that the function of the bond is to ensure that the defendant returns for a future hearing and that state law requires the courts to do so “in the least restrictive conditions”.
Other members of the state Supreme Court argued that public safety concerns could be addressed by placing the defendant under house arrest, including electronic monitoring via an ankle-worn device, and ordering no contact with the victim or the victim’s family.
“It works for some people. But people also cut anklets,” DeWine said.
In response to these concerns, state legislators have crafted legislation that would change some aspects of the bond process.
“Some of them make sense in his latest version, but there are some that don’t,” DeWine said.
He said one aspect he supports is expanding the types of crimes for which a judge can order a defendant to be held without bail.
To cite one example, he said a domestic violence case in which the charge against the defendant was not his second or third might warrant him being held without bail, DeWine said.
But he said such decisions depend on prosecutors presenting a “higher standard of evidence” that may not be available at the start of the prosecution.
Among the opponents of the legislation are the American Civil Liberties Union and Americans for Prosperity, a conservative libertarian group founded by industrialists David and Charles Koch.
Leaders of the latter group have suggested that pretrial incarceration penalizes the poor, hinders defendants’ ability to prepare for their cases, and often results in defendants serving more time than their ultimate sentence.
The ACLU argued that thousands of Ohioans have been jailed awaiting their day in court, not because they pose a danger, but because they lack the money to post bail. The group argued that a proposed amendment to the Ohio Constitution does nothing to address this problem.
DeWine said the bond should not discriminate against the poor.
“Nobody wants to see non-violent people who could be productive, working to support their families while their case is pending, sitting in jail,” he said.
DeWine said Ohio’s No. 1, which will appear on ballots in November, will ensure local courts have the power to decide the appropriate bond.
The wording of the question reads: “A ‘yes’ vote supports requiring courts to consider factors such as public safety, the seriousness of the offence, a person’s criminal record and the likelihood that a person will return to court when bail is set.”
DeWine was asked what could be done to speed up the court process in criminal cases.
He acknowledged that the wheels of justice can move slowly for victims of crime seeking justice and defendants awaiting their day in court.
“A lot of it depends on how a judge handles the (court’s) docket,” DeWine said, while adding that the state Supreme Court has offered guidelines to help courts handle cases more effectively.
“It’s a good tool that people can use,” he says.
Republican DeWine is seeking re-election to the state Supreme Court, after serving nearly six years on the panel. He previously served on the State Supreme Court of Appeals and the Hamilton County Court of Common Pleas, each for four years.
Prior to that, he worked for a private law firm for 13 years and served on the Cincinnati Council and the Hamilton County Commission.
DeWine will face Democratic Judge Marilyn Zayas, who currently sits on the Hamilton County First District Court of Appeals. It will be one of three races for the state Supreme Court in the November ballot. Republican Judge Pat Fischer is facing a challenge from Democratic Court of Appeals Judge Terri Jamison. And Justices Jennifer Brunner, a Democrat, and Sharon Kennedy, a Republican, are vying for the chief justice post vacated by Republican Maureen O’Connor, who has reached the court’s mandatory retirement age.