Today, Ohio became an “open-discovery” state, says the Cincinnati Enquirer. That means prosecutors and defense lawyers must share more information up front than in the past, including police reports, witness statements, and expert witness reports. Next Tuesday, a package of reforms spearheaded by the Cincinnati-based Ohio Innocence Project takes effect. “This is the biggest year for criminal justice reform in the state of Ohio in a long time and possibly forever,” said Mark Godsey, a University of Cincinnati law professor who heads that project.
Police will have a new procedure that police asking eyewitnesses to identify suspects. The law also makes it easier for authorities to get properly videotaped confessions admitted as trial evidence in more serious crimes. Starting July 1, 2011, the law requires authorities to collect DNA samples from all adults arrested on felony charges. Some officials worry the new rules could confuse police and prosecutors, could lead to witness intimidation and might hurt the pursuit of justice. “These rules were put together with good intentions. But good intentions are kind of like homemade bread – it smells good, but if it’s not thoroughly baked, it’s kind of hard to digest,” said one prosecutor.