The Supreme Court of Ohio will hear oral argument in Jeffrey Wogenstahl’s case about jurisdiction on Tuesday morning next week (Tuesday, April 4, 2017). The session will be held at the Thomas J. Moyer Ohio Judicial Center in Columbus. The Court will convene at 9 a.m. ET, but Jeff’s case is likely to be heard mid-morning (two other cases will be heard before Jeff’s). Jeff’s argument is due to last for one hour, with the defense and the prosecution having 30 minutes each to present their arguments before the Court.
Two of the seven judges, Judge Donna Carr and Judge Eileen T Gallagher, were assigned to Jeff’s case in February, following the recusal of Justice Patrick Fischer and Justice Patrick DeWine from the case in January.
Hamilton County Prosecuting Attorney, Joseph Deters, asked Justice William O’Neill to recuse himself from the case because of his anti-death penalty stance, but he declined to do so, saying:
“This is a death penalty case and both the Defendant and the citizens of Ohio deserve a review by the whole Court.”
The Court will be considering whether Ohio had jurisdiction to prosecute Jeff’s case. The victim in this case, Amber Garrett, lived in Harrison, a city northwest of Cincinnati on the Ohio-Indiana border adjacent to the Indiana town of West Harrison. At Jeff’s trial the state used witnesses and showed the jury a map to propose that Amber was murdered in Indiana. Her body was found in a wooded area near West Harrison, Indiana.
This oral argument will not address Jeff’s claim of innocence; but it does raise the possibility of a new trial for Jeff in Indiana, where he would be able to present the evidence that his Ohioan prosecutors suppressed.
We trust that the Court will agree with Jeff’s argument on Tuesday. Whether in Ohio, or in Indiana, Jeff deserves a new trial.