Hamilton County prosecutor, Ohio AG call for bail reform constitutional amendment

Posted at 11:48 PM, Mar 29, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-29 23:48:39-04

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Changes could be coming to how Ohio judges set bonds. Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters is teaming up with the Ohio Attorney General and Republican lawmakers in both chambers to tackle bail reform.

In a news conference, Deters and Attorney General Dave Yost criticized the Ohio Supreme Court decision's on DuBose v. McGuffey. The court voted in a 4-3 decision to uphold a $1 million reduction in murder suspect Dustin DuBose's bond because he was unable to pay.

A judge previously set DuBose's bond at $1.5 million, but an Ohio Court of Appeals ruled it was so high, it was unconstitutional.

"I think Justice DeWine said it best. He said, 'Ohio is less safe today because of this decision,'" Deters said. "And the fact of the matter is it is."

Deters said judges "keep doing the same thing over and over again." His office often shares "Weekly Rap Sheets" on Facebook, calling out judges over bonds given to people with gun charges or violent pasts.

"This decision upended the longstanding understanding of all the practitioners in the criminal justice field," Yost said.

Still, Northern Kentucky University Chase College of Law Professor Ken Katkin said he believes the critique of this decision doesn't fall in line with what it was set out to accomplish.

"They were completely mischaracterizing what the Ohio Supreme court said in the DuBose case," Katkin said.

Deters brought up a few cases in his jurisdiction where he felt judges gave suspects low bonds, but Katkin said the reform Deters and Yost want for cases like these is already law.

"Judges are already allowed to use the danger that the person poses to the community," Katkin said. "In fact, both the DuBose case and the Ohio Constitution itself say that a person is not bailable if they pose a substantial risk of serious physical harm to any person or to the community. So nobody can get bail if they do post such a risk."

But Katkin says the DuBose case is about people who do not post the risk of doing serious harm to the community, which he says negates this proposed reform.

"People who pose a danger to the community are not eligible for bail, so they're not eligible for bail today. They won't be eligible for bail if this bill passes. So there's no impact there," Katkin said.

The DuBose v. McGuffey decision was split evenly between the justices along party lines. The Chief Justice, a Republican, was the deciding vote.

A joint resolution has already been filed in the Ohio State House. Their aim is to get a two-thirds supermajority vote to pass it and get it on the ballot for Ohioans to vote.

Hamilton County prosecutor seeks to try teen homicide suspect as adult
Deters: Man charged in Roselawn murder should not have been out on bond before shooting