Ohio bill would block parental rights of rapists
Written by Associated Press   
Wednesday, 28 May 2014 13:52

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — An Ohio bill would let rape victims request that a court terminate or deny offenders' parental rights over a child conceived as a result of an attack.

The proposal was scheduled for an Ohio Senate vote on Wednesday. If it passes, it would go to the House for consideration.

Under the legislation, the denial of parental rights wouldn't relieve the attacker of any debts owed to the parent or the child.

Supporters say the bill will protect rape victims and their children.

A similar measure was introduced last year by two Democrats. Their bill came after Cleveland kidnapper Ariel Castro asked for permission to visit with the 6-year-old daughter he fathered with one of the three women he raped and held captive for years. The judge denied the request.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Judges orders temporary halt to Ohio executions
Written by ANDREW WELSH-HUGGINS, AP Legal Affairs Writer   
Wednesday, 28 May 2014 13:52

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Ohio executions have been put on hold for 2 1/2 months after a federal judge said he wanted to hear arguments over the state's new lethal injection procedures.

The temporary order delays executions scheduled for July and August while attorneys prepare filings about the state's decision to boost the dosages of its lethal injection drugs.

The one-page order by Columbus federal judge Gregory Frost on Tuesday affects the state's latest death penalty policy change, which was announced in late April. Ohio uses two drugs injected simultaneously in executions. The policy change considerably increases the amount of the sedative and raises the amount of the painkiller.

The procedure update followed the Jan. 16 execution of Dennis McGuire, who repeatedly gasped during the record 26 minutes it took him to die.

The state said in April it was making the changes "to allay any remaining concerns" after McGuire's execution, though it stood by the way McGuire was put to death.

Bond set for 3 arrested in fatal Ohio house fire
Written by Associated Press   
Tuesday, 27 May 2014 18:13

FOSTORIA, Ohio (AP) — Two people were ordered by a judge to be held on $2 million bond each on Tuesday in connection with a house fire that killed two people. A third suspect had his bond set at $1.5 million.

Investigators have not released a motive or the names of the victims in the fire, which was ruled arson. Officials have said the fire started at the front of the house early Monday, but they haven't said how it started.

Police charged Shey Weiker with aggravated murder and aggravated arson. Charges against Charles Schaeffer and Timothy Hall include complicity to commit aggravated murder and complicity to commit arson.

Dogs help calm witnesses in Ohio courtroom
Written by The Associated Press   
Wednesday, 28 May 2014 10:24
MARION, Ohio — A new program puts specially trained service dogs in the jury box to calm anxious witnesses testifying in an Ohio courtroom.
The two pooches — 6-year-old Molly B and 2-year-old Camry — are trained to lie still on the floor in the witness box to provide a more comforting environment for people testifying in the family court in Marion County, north of Columbus. Camry, a golden retriever/Labrador mix, will be a permanent addition to the court.
Ellen O’Neill-Stephens, founder of Courthouse Dogs Foundation and Molly’s handler, told The Marion Star that the courtroom is one of the first in the nation to have such a facility dog. In other jurisdictions, such dogs are with prosecutors’ offices or legal agencies.
“The criminal justice system is a very stressful process,” she said. “Scientific research shows that dogs reduce stress in humans. In particular, when a witness has to describe a traumatic event in the courtroom, many of them feel a great deal of stress. When they’re feeling that stress, it’s difficult for them to describe it to the jury.”
Threat records on Ohio governor in crosshairs
Written by JULIE CARR SMYTH, Associated Press   
Tuesday, 27 May 2014 18:11

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — The Ohio Supreme Court vigorously questioned lawyers on both sides Tuesday in a legal dispute over the state's decision to withhold records documenting threats against Republican Gov. John Kasich from a political blogger.

The state Public Safety Department cited security in denying a 2012 public-records request by the Democratic-leaning blog Plunderbund, which sought investigation files on any threats to Kasich or his staff.

Shortly before the request, Kasich's office cited a large number of threats against the governor as a basis for declining to release daily schedules to the state Democratic Party. The blog wanted to find out the nature of the threats. Large labor protests had been staged against Kasich in 2011 during a battle over bargaining limits for public-employee unions that ended in a new state law being overturned.

Plunderbund's attorney, Victoria Ullmann, argued Tuesday that the state denied the blog the records based on an overly broad interpretation of the term "security."

"We are not asking at all for security protocols. We don't want that; we're not interested in that," Ullman told justices. She said the department continued to deny access to threat records after Plunderbund narrowed its request to only closed files, then to documents describing the threats.

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