2953.21 Post conviction relief petition.

(A)

(1)

(a) Any person who has been convicted of a criminal offense or adjudicated a delinquent child and who claims that there was such a denial or infringement of the person's rights as to render the judgment void or voidable under the Ohio Constitution or the Constitution of the United States, any person who has been convicted of a criminal offense and sentenced to death and who claims that there was a denial or infringement of the person's rights under either of those Constitutions that creates a reasonable probability of an altered verdict, and any person who has been convicted of a criminal offense that is a felony and who is an offender for whom DNA testing that was performed under sections 2953.71 to 2953.81 of the Revised Code or under former section 2953.82 of the Revised Code and analyzed in the context of and upon consideration of all available admissible evidence related to the person's case as described in division (D) of section 2953.74 of the Revised Code provided results that establish, by clear and convincing evidence, actual innocence of that felony offense or, if the person was sentenced to death, establish, by clear and convincing evidence, actual innocence of the aggravating circumstance or circumstances the person was found guilty of committing and that is or are the basis of that sentence of death, may file a petition in the court that imposed sentence, stating the grounds for relief relied upon, and asking the court to vacate or set aside the judgment or sentence or to grant other appropriate relief. The petitioner may file a supporting affidavit and other documentary evidence in support of the claim for relief.

(b) As used in division (A)(1)(a) of this section, "actual innocence" means that, had the results of the DNA testing conducted under sections 2953.71 to 2953.81 of the Revised Code or under former section 2953.82 of the Revised Code been presented at trial, and had those results been analyzed in the context of and upon consideration of all available admissible evidence related to the person's case as described in division (D) of section 2953.74 of the Revised Code, no reasonable factfinder would have found the petitioner guilty of the offense of which the petitioner was convicted, or, if the person was sentenced to death, no reasonable factfinder would have found the petitioner guilty of the aggravating circumstance or circumstances the petitioner was found guilty of committing and that is or are the basis of that sentence of death.

(c) As used in divisions (A)(1)(a) and (b) of this section, "former section 2953.82 of the Revised Code" means section 2953.82 of the Revised Code as it existed prior to July 6, 2010.

(d) At any time in conjunction with the filing of a petition for postconviction relief under division (A) of this section by a person who has been sentenced to death, or with the litigation of a petition so filed, the court, for good cause shown, may authorize the petitioner in seeking the postconviction relief and the prosecuting attorney of the county served by the court in defending the proceeding, to take depositions and to issue subpoenas and subpoenas duces tecum in accordance with divisions (A)(1)(d), (A)(1)(e), and (C) of this section, and to any other form of discovery as in a civil action that the court in its discretion permits. The court may limit the extent of discovery under this division. In addition to discovery that is relevant to the claim and was available under Criminal Rule 16 through conclusion of the original criminal trial, the court, for good cause shown, may authorize the petitioner or prosecuting attorney to take depositions and issue subpoenas and subpoenas duces tecum in either of the following circumstances:

(i) For any witness who testified at trial or who was disclosed by the state prior to trial, except as otherwise provided in this division, the petitioner or prosecuting attorney shows clear and convincing evidence that the witness is material and that a deposition of the witness or the issuing of a subpoena or subpoena duces tecum is of assistance in order to substantiate or refute the petitioner's claim that there is a reasonable probability of an altered verdict. This division does not apply if the witness was unavailable for trial or would not voluntarily be interviewed by the defendant or prosecuting attorney.

(ii) For any witness with respect to whom division (A)(1)(d)(i) of this section does not apply, the petitioner or prosecuting attorney shows good cause that the witness is material and that a deposition of the witness or the issuing of a subpoena or subpoena duces tecum is of assistance in order to substantiate or refute the petitioner's claim that there is a reasonable probability of an altered verdict.

(e) If a person who has been sentenced to death and who files a petition for postconviction relief under division (A) of this section requests postconviction discovery as described in division (A)(1)(d) of this section or if the prosecuting attorney of the county served by the court requests postconviction discovery as described in that division, within ten days after the docketing of the request, or within any other time that the court sets for good cause shown, the prosecuting attorney shall respond by answer or motion to the petitioner's request or the petitioner shall respond by answer or motion to the prosecuting attorney's request, whichever is applicable.

(f) If a person who has been sentenced to death and who files a petition for postconviction relief under division (A) of this section requests postconviction discovery as described in division (A)(1)(d) of this section or if the prosecuting attorney of the county served by the court requests postconviction discovery as described in that division, upon motion by the petitioner, the prosecuting attorney, or the person from whom discovery is sought, and for good cause shown, the court in which the action is pending may make any order that justice requires to protect a party or person from oppression or undue burden or expense, including but not limited to the orders described in divisions (A)(1)(g)(i) to (viii) of this section. The court also may make any such order if, in its discretion, it determines that the discovery sought would be irrelevant to the claims made in the petition; and if the court makes any such order on that basis, it shall explain in the order the reasons why the discovery would be irrelevant.

(g) If a petitioner, prosecuting attorney, or person from whom discovery is sought makes a motion for an order under division (A)(1)(f) of this section and the order is denied in whole or in part, the court, on terms and conditions as are just, may order that any party or person provide or permit discovery as described in division (A)(1)(d) of this section. The provisions of Civil Rule 37(A)(4) apply to the award of expenses incurred in relation to the motion, except that in no case shall a court require a petitioner who is indigent to pay expenses under those provisions.

Before any person moves for an order under division (A)(1)(f) of this section, that person shall make a reasonable effort to resolve the matter through discussion with the petitioner or prosecuting attorney seeking discovery. A motion for an order under division (A)(1)(f) of this section shall be accompanied by a statement reciting the effort made to resolve the matter in accordance with this paragraph.

The orders that may be made under division (A)(1)(f) of this section include, but are not limited to, any of the following:

(i) That the discovery not be had;

(ii) That the discovery may be had only on specified terms and conditions, including a designation of the time or place;

(iii) That the discovery may be had only by a method of discovery other than that selected by the party seeking discovery;

(iv) That certain matters not be inquired into or that the scope of the discovery be limited to certain matters;

(v) That discovery be conducted with no one present except persons designated by the court;

(vi) That a deposition after being sealed be opened only by order of the court;

(vii) That a trade secret or other confidential research, development, or commercial information not be disclosed or be disclosed only in a designated way;

(viii) That the parties simultaneously file specified documents or information enclosed in sealed envelopes to be opened as directed by the court.

(h) Any postconviction discovery authorized under division (A)(1)(d) of this section shall be completed not later than eighteen months after the start of the discovery proceedings unless, for good cause shown, the court extends that period for completing the discovery.

(i) Nothing in division (A)(1)(d) of this section authorizes, or shall be construed as authorizing, the relitigation, or discovery in support of relitigation, of any matter barred by the doctrine of res judicata.

(j) Division (A)(1) of this section does not apply to any person who has been convicted of a criminal offense and sentenced to death and who has unsuccessfully raised the same claims in a petition for postconviction relief.

(2) Except as otherwise provided in section 2953.23 of the Revised Code, a petition under division (A)(1) of this section shall be filed no later than three hundred sixty-five days after the date on which the trial transcript is filed in the court of appeals in the direct appeal of the judgment of conviction or adjudication or, if the direct appeal involves a sentence of death, the date on which the trial transcript is filed in the supreme court. If no appeal is taken, except as otherwise provided in section 2953.23 of the Revised Code, the petition shall be filed no later than three hundred sixty-five days after the expiration of the time for filing the appeal.

(3) In a petition filed under division (A) of this section, a person who has been sentenced to death may ask the court to render void or voidable the judgment with respect to the conviction of aggravated murder or the specification of an aggravating circumstance or the sentence of death.

(4) A petitioner shall state in the original or amended petition filed under division (A) of this section all grounds for relief claimed by the petitioner. Except as provided in section 2953.23 of the Revised Code, any ground for relief that is not so stated in the petition is waived.

(5) If the petitioner in a petition filed under division (A) of this section was convicted of or pleaded guilty to a felony, the petition may include a claim that the petitioner was denied the equal protection of the laws in violation of the Ohio Constitution or the United States Constitution because the sentence imposed upon the petitioner for the felony was part of a consistent pattern of disparity in sentencing by the judge who imposed the sentence, with regard to the petitioner's race, gender, ethnic background, or religion. If the supreme court adopts a rule requiring a court of common pleas to maintain information with regard to an offender's race, gender, ethnic background, or religion, the supporting evidence for the petition shall include, but shall not be limited to, a copy of that type of information relative to the petitioner's sentence and copies of that type of information relative to sentences that the same judge imposed upon other persons.

(6) Notwithstanding any law or court rule to the contrary, there is no limit on the number of pages in, or on the length of, a petition filed under division (A) of this section by a person who has been sentenced to death. If any court rule specifies a limit on the number of pages in, or on the length of, a petition filed under division (A) of this section or on a prosecuting attorney's response to such a petition by answer or motion and a person who has been sentenced to death files a petition that exceeds the limit specified for the petition, the prosecuting attorney may respond by an answer or motion that exceeds the limit specified for the response.

(B) The clerk of the court in which the petition for postconviction relief and, if applicable, a request for postconviction discovery described in division (A)(1)(d) of this section is filed shall docket the petition and the request and bring them promptly to the attention of the court. The clerk of the court in which the petition for postconviction relief and, if applicable, a request for postconviction discovery described in division (A)(1)(d) of this section is filed immediately shall forward a copy of the petition and a copy of the request if filed by the petitioner to the prosecuting attorney of the county served by the court. If the request for postconviction discovery is filed by the prosecuting attorney, the clerk of the court immediately shall forward a copy of the request to the petitioner or the petitioner's counsel.

(C) If a person who has been sentenced to death and who files a petition for postconviction relief under division (A) of this section requests a deposition or the prosecuting attorney in the case requests a deposition, and if the court grants the request under division (A)(1)(d) of this section, the court shall notify the petitioner or the petitioner's counsel and the prosecuting attorney. The deposition shall be conducted pursuant to divisions (B), (D), and (E) of Criminal Rule 15. Notwithstanding division (C) of Criminal Rule 15, the petitioner is not entitled to attend the deposition. The prosecuting attorney shall be permitted to attend and participate in any deposition.

(D) The court shall consider a petition that is timely filed under division (A)(2) of this section even if a direct appeal of the judgment is pending. Before granting a hearing on a petition filed under division (A) of this section, the court shall determine whether there are substantive grounds for relief. In making such a determination, the court shall consider, in addition to the petition, the supporting affidavits, and the documentary evidence, all the files and records pertaining to the proceedings against the petitioner, including, but not limited to, the indictment, the court's journal entries, the journalized records of the clerk of the court, and the court reporter's transcript. The court reporter's transcript, if ordered and certified by the court, shall be taxed as court costs. If the court dismisses the petition, it shall make and file findings of fact and conclusions of law with respect to such dismissal. If the petition was filed by a person who has been sentenced to death, the findings of fact and conclusions of law shall state specifically the reasons for the dismissal of the petition and of each claim it contains.

(E) Within ten days after the docketing of the petition, or within any further time that the court may fix for good cause shown, the prosecuting attorney shall respond by answer or motion. Division (A)(6) of this section applies with respect to the prosecuting attorney's response. Within twenty days from the date the issues are raised, either party may move for summary judgment. The right to summary judgment shall appear on the face of the record.

(F) Unless the petition and the files and records of the case show the petitioner is not entitled to relief, the court shall proceed to a prompt hearing on the issues even if a direct appeal of the case is pending. If the court notifies the parties that it has found grounds for granting relief, either party may request an appellate court in which a direct appeal of the judgment is pending to remand the pending case to the court.

(G) A petitioner who files a petition under division (A) of this section may amend the petition as follows:

(1) If the petition was filed by a person who has been sentenced to death, at any time that is not later than one hundred eighty days after the petition is filed, the petitioner may amend the petition with or without leave or prejudice to the proceedings.

(2) If division (G)(1) of this section does not apply, at any time before the answer or motion is filed, the petitioner may amend the petition with or without leave or prejudice to the proceedings.

(3) The petitioner may amend the petition with leave of court at any time after the expiration of the applicable period specified in division (G)(1) or (2) of this section.

(H) If the court does not find grounds for granting relief, it shall make and file findings of fact and conclusions of law and shall enter judgment denying relief on the petition. If the petition was filed by a person who has been sentenced to death, the findings of fact and conclusions of law shall state specifically the reasons for the denial of relief on the petition and of each claim it contains. If no direct appeal of the case is pending and the court finds grounds for relief or if a pending direct appeal of the case has been remanded to the court pursuant to a request made pursuant to division (F) of this section and the court finds grounds for granting relief, it shall make and file findings of fact and conclusions of law and shall enter a judgment that vacates and sets aside the judgment in question, and, in the case of a petitioner who is a prisoner in custody, shall discharge or resentence the petitioner or grant a new trial as the court determines appropriate. If the petitioner has been sentenced to death, the findings of fact and conclusions of law shall state specifically the reasons for the finding of grounds for granting the relief, with respect to each claim contained in the petition. The court also may make supplementary orders to the relief granted, concerning such matters as rearraignment, retrial, custody, and bail. If the trial court's order granting the petition is reversed on appeal and if the direct appeal of the case has been remanded from an appellate court pursuant to a request under division (F) of this section, the appellate court reversing the order granting the petition shall notify the appellate court in which the direct appeal of the case was pending at the time of the remand of the reversal and remand of the trial court's order. Upon the reversal and remand of the trial court's order granting the petition, regardless of whether notice is sent or received, the direct appeal of the case that was remanded is reinstated.

(I) Upon the filing of a petition pursuant to division (A) of this section by a person sentenced to death, only the supreme court may stay execution of the sentence of death.

(J)

(1) If a person sentenced to death intends to file a petition under this section, the court shall appoint counsel to represent the person upon a finding that the person is indigent and that the person either accepts the appointment of counsel or is unable to make a competent decision whether to accept or reject the appointment of counsel. The court may decline to appoint counsel for the person only upon a finding, after a hearing if necessary, that the person rejects the appointment of counsel and understands the legal consequences of that decision or upon a finding that the person is not indigent.

(2) The court shall not appoint as counsel under division (J)(1) of this section an attorney who represented the petitioner at trial in the case to which the petition relates unless the person and the attorney expressly request the appointment. The court shall appoint as counsel under division (J)(1) of this section only an attorney who is certified under Rule 20 of the Rules of Superintendence for the Courts of Ohio to represent indigent defendants charged with or convicted of an offense for which the death penalty can be or has been imposed. The ineffectiveness or incompetence of counsel during proceedings under this section does not constitute grounds for relief in a proceeding under this section, in an appeal of any action under this section, or in an application to reopen a direct appeal.

(3) Division (J) of this section does not preclude attorneys who represent the state of Ohio from invoking the provisions of 28 U.S.C. 154 with respect to capital cases that were pending in federal habeas corpus proceedings prior to July 1, 1996, insofar as the petitioners in those cases were represented in proceedings under this section by one or more counsel appointed by the court under this section or section 120.06, 120.16, 120.26, or 120.33 of the Revised Code and those appointed counsel meet the requirements of division (J)(2) of this section.

(K) Subject to the appeal of a sentence for a felony that is authorized by section 2953.08 of the Revised Code, the remedy set forth in this section is the exclusive remedy by which a person may bring a collateral challenge to the validity of a conviction or sentence in a criminal case or to the validity of an adjudication of a child as a delinquent child for the commission of an act that would be a criminal offense if committed by an adult or the validity of a related order of disposition.

Amended by 131st General Assembly File No. TBD, SB 139, §1, eff. 4/6/2017.

Amended by 130th General Assembly File No. TBD, HB 663, §1, eff. 3/23/2015.

Amended by 128th General AssemblyFile No.30, SB 77, §1, eff. 7/6/2010.

Effective Date: 10-29-2003; 07-11-2006