FACTS:

In the 1978 case Lockett v. Ohio, the Supreme Court of the United States struck Ohio’s death penalty process as unconstitutional. Individuals who had previously been sentenced to death were resentenced after Lockett, often receiving sentences of life with the possibility of parole. FACTS: In the 1978 case Lockett v. Ohio, the Supreme Court of the United States struck Ohio’s death penalty process as unconstitutional. Individuals who had previously been sentenced to death were resentenced after Lockett, often receiving sentences of life with the possibility of parole. For at least the past decade, the Ohio Parole Board has had an unwritten policy or practice of denying parole to these individuals regardless of individual circumstances. 

Our clients were impacted by this policy. Patricia Wernert and George Clayton were each sentenced to death pre-Lockett, were resentenced, and have since been denied parole repeatedly. Both have records of good conduct, strong rehabilitative efforts, and good reentry plans. 

LEGAL THEORY:

The Supreme Court of Ohio has held that although parole is discretionary and no one is entitled to it, having set up a parole system, the state has created a “minimal due process expectation,” by which it is obligated to provide “meaningful consideration” for parole. The Board’s policy of denying fair consideration to people who were resentenced after Lockett violates that requirement.

STATUS:

On July 28, 2021 we filed this case in the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas on behalf of Plaintiffs Patricia Wernert and George Clayton, seeking a declaratory judgment finding that the Parole Board’s blanket policy of denying people resentenced post-Lockett is unlawful. On August 25, 2021, we agreed to a 28-day extension of Defendants’ deadline to file a responsive pleading. On September 28, Defendants filed both a Motion to Consolidate this case with Brust v. Ohio Parole Board, which we did not oppose, and a Motion for More Definite Statement, asking the Court to require us to amend our Complaint by attaching the full Board Decision and Minutes for each Plaintiff. We opposed the Motion for a More Definite Statement on October 5, and Defendants replied on October 12. On November 23, Defendants’ motion was granted, and this case was consolidated with Brust

On March 3, we filed a Motion to Intervene and Amend Complaint, adding Bobby A. Johnson and Vincent Price as Plaintiffs. Defendants opposed the Motion on March 17, and we filed a Reply on April 1, 2022. The Court held a virtual status conference on June 14.

Court

Franklin County Common Pleas

Judge

Lynch

Status

Active

Case number

21CV4800