Ohio Innocence Project’s Request to Recuse Judge Denied
A request from the Ohio Innocence Project to have a judge recused from client R. Dean Gillispie’s case was denied by Ohio Supreme Court Acting Chief Justice Paul Pfeifer yesterday. Gillispie was convicted of rape and kidnapping three women over 20 years ago and has maintained his innocence since.
Without physical evidence linking him to the crimes, his conviction was mostly based on the victim’s testimony—who identified him from a photo lineup nearly two years after the crime. Eyewitness misidentifications contributed to over 75% of the more than 250 wrongful convictions in the United States overturned by post-conviction DNA evidence. Ohio Innocence Project Director Mark Godsey and former Ohio Attorney General Jim Petro asked to recuse Montgomery County Common Pleas Court Judge A.J. Wagner on the basis that he was hostile toward them and therefore unable to be impartial moving forward. According to the Dayton Daily News, Wagner claimed that Godsey was in violation of federal law by audio taping a conversation with a law enforcement officer.
Pfeifer pointed out that once Wagner learned that it wasn’t illegal, he dropped the matter.
Pfeifer also noted that the accusation took place in the summer of 2008 after Wagner denied Gillispie’s motion for a new trial. The Court of Appeals overturned Wagner’s decision in part in July 2009, but Godsey waited until March 2010 to request that Wagner be disqualified. Pfeifer said that delay undercut Godsey’s claim.
Godsey said he is disappointed with the decision but will move forward. A hearing on new evidence in the case is now scheduled for July 9, he said.
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