A Flawed Statute

Jeffrey Wogenstahl has filed a new petition in the Ohio Supreme Court, claiming that Ohio relied on a flawed statute to allow itself jurisdiction to try him.*

At fault was the statute’s sub-section known as R.C. §2901.11(D); this addressed situations where it was impossible to decide whether a crime had been committed in Ohio or in a different state. In these situations R.C. §2901.11(D) forced courts to presume that Ohio had jurisdiction to try the accused person for the crime.

Jeff argues that this presumption denied him the “due process of law” which is enshrined in the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution, and also violated the Ohio Constitution’s Due Course of Law Clause. He contends that instead of presuming that it had jurisdiction, the State should have been required to prove that it had jurisdiction.

Justice French has noted† that although the Ohio Supreme Court requires the State to prove that the venue (location) for a trial is appropriate, that Court has yet to consider whether the State should also prove that it has jurisdiction for the trial. As Jeff points out:
“Given that jurisdiction is a prerequisite to venue, failing to require that the State also prove jurisdiction as an element of the offense would make little sense.”

Jeff adds that some Ohio intermediate appellate courts have already deliberated about this, and have decided that jurisdiction is an element of a crime which the State should be obliged to prove.

Jeff maintains that, lacking jurisdiction, his conviction and resultant death sentence are void. He asks the Court to vacate his current execution date, reopen his direct appeal, and vacate his conviction and sentence for the aggravated murder of Amber Garrett.

We wish him success.

*See State of Ohio, Plaintiff, v. Jeffrey Wogenstahl, Defendant. 1995-0042. Jeffrey Wogenstahl’s Motion for Order or Relief Pursuant to Supreme Court Rule of Practice 4.01. In the Supreme Court of Ohio. Filed May 02, 2018. Supreme Court of Ohio database of cases, accessed May 14, 2018.
† The State of Ohio, Appellee v. Wogenstahl, Appellant. Slip Opinion No. 2017-Ohio-6873, French, J., concurring (pages 15 – 17). Supreme Court of Ohio. Decided July 25, 2017. Supreme Court of Ohio database of cases, accessed May 14, 2018.
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