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Jackson's First Opinion Seeks Review of OH Death Penalty Case

Updated: Nov 8, 2022

Supreme Court Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson published her first written opinion Monday since joining the high court, dissenting from the court's refusal to hear a case involving an Ohio man on death row. In a short dissent joined by Justice Sonia Sotomayor, Jackson wrote that she would have tossed out a lower court decision denying relief to Davel Chinn, who was convicted and sentenced to death for murdering a man in 1989, CBS News reports. Chinn's lawyers argued the state suppressed evidence during his trial showing that its primary witness, Marvin Washington, had an intellectual disability that led to substantial memory problems and affected his ability to distinguish between reality and things he imagined. Washington, who was 15 at the time, admitted his involvement in the fatal shooting of Brian Jones.

"Without Marvin Washington, that state's evidence was not strong enough to sustain confidence in either Chinn's conviction or death sentence," the Ohio Public Defender's Office told the Supreme Court. In her dissent, Jackson wrote that "because Chinn's life is on the line, and given the substantial likelihood that the suppressed record would have changed the outcome at trial based on the Ohio courts' own representations," she would have ordered additional proceedings in the case. In two other cases, the court refused to hear, Justices Sotomayor and Jackson said the court should have heard a Louisiana case involving prosecutor misconduct, and Justice Gorsuch dissented from a court decision not to review an Arizona case involving a defendant's right to a 12-person jury.


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