Bus tour touts Issue 1 ahead of election


LIMA — The depiction of Lady Justice on the side of the Vote Yes on Issue 1 tour bus was blindfolded, but the supporters of this proposed amendment to Ohio’s Constitution maintain that its passage will help judges keep an eye on public safety concerns when determining bail.

This bus tour, featuring multiple state office holders, a county prosecutor and two Ohio Supreme Court justices, made a stop Wednesday at the Allen County Republican Party Victory Center on Elida Road in Lima to try to make the case that the issue of determining bail for criminal defendants must include considerations for public safety, a factor that currently cannot be included, according to a recent Ohio Supreme Court decision. In Dubose v. McGuffey, the court ruled 4-3 that public safety “is not a consideration with respect to the financial conditions of bail.”

Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters expressed his avid support for this measure, a stance amplified by the fact that the case that led to this Supreme Court decision originated in his jurisdiction, with a man charged with murder able to get his bond reduced despite safety concerns expressed by the victim’s family.

“It’s ridiculous that we have to have a constitutional amendment, frankly, but we do,” he said. “It really brings the power back to the people of the state and tells the Supreme Court, ‘Hey, guys, this is our state and you’re not going to tell us that judges can’t consider public safety.’”

Groups like the ACLU of Ohio have come out against the proposed amendment, saying that instead of ensuring public safety, this measure would instead create a two-tiered system for bail, with wealthy defendants able to escape incarceration and poorer ones stuck in jail while awaiting trial. In a Twitter post made Wednesday, the ACLU of Ohio said this issue was really “to allow courts to set cash bail in amounts that unwealthy Ohioans can’t pay.”

Another point brought up by opponents of Issue 1 centers around concerns that raising bail would be an overreach that would infringe on the rights of the accused. Policy research firm Policy Matters Ohio tweeted recently that “cash bail goes against the idea that people are innocent until proven guilty.”

Deters rejected these assertions, saying that this measure would not reduce access to bail and that being in custody does not negate the defendant’s right to a speedy trial.

“If Elon Musk killed five people in Allen County and the judge set a trillion-dollar bond, Elon Musk isn’t getting out, so that’s ludicrous on its face,” he said. “When you hear, ‘They’re innocent until proven guilty,’ how can you even effect an arrest, then? You’re holding them and they’re not proven guilty yet. Being proven guilty is a judicial element. You can identify someone as a danger and remove them. If someone’s locked up, we have to try them in 90 days. They don’t sit and languish in jail. If they continue beyond 90 days, that’s at their request.”

Along with Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost and Ohio Treasurer Robert Sprague also expressing their support for Issue 1, people also heard from two of the three dissenting Supreme Court justices in the Dubose case, with Justices Pat Fischer and Pat DeWine both calling for voters to support this issue.

Reach Craig Kelly at 567-242-0391 or on Twitter @cmkelly419.

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