On March 19, 2014, a three judge panel of the Ohio Ninth District Court of Appeals unanimously reversed the trial court ruling that found Douglas Prade “actually innocent” of his ex-wife’s murder. You can read more about that here. That same day, Prade filed a notice of appeal and motion for immediate stay of execution of the judgment mandate, which the state opposed. The Supreme Court of Ohio ordered a temporary stay of execution on the judgment until it could decide the merits of the stay.
Today, April 23, 2014, the Court granted the stay on the merits, by a vote of 4-3. (Chief Justice O’Connor has long been recused from the case due to her role as Summit County Prosecutor at the time. Judge Jeffrey Froelich of the Second District Court of Appeals is now sitting for O’Connor on the case). Justices Pfeifer, O’Neill, Kennedy and Judge Froelich voted for the stay. Justices O’Donnell, Lanzinger, and French dissented.
Prade will be filing a memorandum in support of jurisdiction, due May 5, asking the Supreme Court to reverse the court of appeals decision, which overturned the trial court’s finding of actual innocence in his case. The state then gets the chance to file a memorandum in opposition. The Court has discretion about whether or not to hear this latest appeal; it is not an automatic right. A decision on whether or not to hear this latest appeal could take a couple of months. If the Court does decide to hear this latest appeal at all—and I am betting it will by the same 4-3 vote that granted the stay today–there will be another battle on the merits of that appeal, which is likely to involve very technical appellate stuff.
The Court today only granted the stay until it decides whether or not to hear the appeal. While the Court decides this, Prade will remain free.