Update: Judge Christine Croce, who is now hearing this case, ruled July 25, 2014, that Prade should go back to jail while she decides whether he should get a new trial. Judge Croce will hold a hearing for August 25, 2014 to hear arguments on whether Prade should get a new trial.
In January of 2013, Douglas Prade was released from prison after a trial judge found him actually innocent of his ex-wife’s 1997 murder. On March 19, 2014, the Ninth District Court of Appeals unanimously reversed that decision. In April of 2014, by a vote of 4-3, with Second District Court of Appeals Judge Jeffrey Froehlich sitting for Chief Justice O’Connor (who was Summit County Prosecutor at the time) the Supreme Court of Ohio allowed Prade to remain free while his lawyers prepared papers asking the high court to reverse the Court of Appeals decision. Acting Chief Justice Pfeifer, Justices O’Neill and Kennedy, and Judge Froehlich voted for the stay. Justices Lanzinger, French, and O’Donnell voted against it.
Today, July 23, 2014, again by a vote of 4-3, the high court declined to hear Prade’s latest appeal. Voting against hearing the case again were Justices Lanzinger, O’Donnell, French, and Kennedy. Acting Chief Justice Pfeifer, Justice O’Neill, and Judge Froelich dissented, and would have accepted the latest appeal.
When Judge Hunter found Prade actually innocent, she also ruled that if her grant of exoneration was overturned on appeal, Prade’s motion for a new trial was granted. That issue remains to be resolved by the Ninth District Court of Appeals. It is not yet known if Prade will be returned to prison until this issue is decided. Judge Hunter has since retired from the bench.
A status report has been scheduled for this case on Friday. The state will undoubtedly argue that Prade should be jailed pending its appeal of the order granting Prade a new trial. However, Prade’s supporters and advocates – the Ohio Innocence Project, Jones Day, the Innocence Network, as well as the Exoneration Project at Loevy and Loevy – will continue to argue Prade’s innocence and that he should remain free.
So, as they say, it ain’t over till it’s over.