Friday, October 20, 2006

Ohio death penalty conviction upheld

The Ohio Supreme Court affirmed the conviction & death sentence of John Drummond in a 4-3 decision October 18th..

Drummond had been found guilty of two counts of aggravated murder, one of the victims being a 3-month old child. He and an accomplice were members of a local street gang, the accomplice having been tried separately and convicted to a 54-year prison sentence

During the trial there had been several incidents in the courtroom, and the trial court judge had at one point proceeded with the room having been cleared of all in attendance save the news media. Drummond’s appeal was based on a Sixth Amendment claim that that action denied him of his right to a public trial.

Justice Judith Ann Lanzinger, writing for the majority, noted that “the right to a public trial is not an absolute, and in some instances must yield to other interests, such as those essential to the administration of justice.” Chief Justice Moyer, dissenting, disputed that holding with regard to the partial closure of the trial, viewing it as a “structural error violating the fundamental constitutional right to a public trial, and requiring a reversal of the conviction & death sentence.”

Supreme Court’s case summary

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