The Cleveland Plain Dealer’s four-part series “Presumed guilty” found a series of outrageous abuses in what might politely be described as a Cuyahoga County injustice system, the newspaper says in an editorial. It focused on Rule 29 of the Ohio Rules of Criminal Procedure , which enables judges to dismiss criminal cases if they determine insufficient evidence was presented at trial. The series highlighted systemic failures at the prosecutor’s office, in grand jury procedures, and in how judges applied the rule. The result in a significant number of cases: Folks against whom there was scant to no evidence of a crime were exposed to an unnecessary judicial nightmare.
Plain Dealer reporters Amanda Garrett and John Caniglia spent nine months reviewing thousands of court documents, interviewing 200 defense attorneys, judges, current and former prosecutors, and suspects, and creating databases to track trends in Rule 29 rulings both locally as well as in Pennsylvania. Their findings were illustrated by the case of Charice Gilmore, a Cleveland mother who was indicted for inciting a neighborhood fight, even though she was in another county at the time. The detective who testified before the grand jury recounted events that were not backed up with evidence, or were false.