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Ohio Adult Parole Authority v. Woodard

523 U.S. 272, 118 S. Ct. 1244, 140 L. Ed. 2d 387 (1998)

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Ohio Adult Parole Authority v. Woodard

United States Supreme Court

523 U.S. 272, 118 S. Ct. 1244, 140 L. Ed. 2d 387 (1998)

Facts

Eugene Woodard (plaintiff) was convicted of aggravated murder and sentenced to death, which were both affirmed on appeal. When the date of Woodard’s execution was approaching, the Ohio Adult Parole Authority (the parole authority) (defendant) commenced its clemency investigation of Woodard’s case at least 45 days before the execution date as required by law. The parole authority offered Woodard an opportunity to participate in an interview without counsel present. Woodard rejected the opportunity for an interview and objected to the lack of sufficient notice to prepare for the interview and to the prohibition on counsel’s participation in the interview. The parole authority did not respond to Woodard’s objections. Woodard filed suit in the federal district court. The district court found in favor of the parole authority after the parole authority filed a motion for judgment on the pleadings. The court of appeals affirmed the district court determination that federal law did not create a liberty interest in clemency, adhering to the United States Supreme Court’s decision in Connecticut Board Of Pardons v. Dumschat, 452 U.S. 458 (1981). However, the court of appeals held that Evitts v. Lucey, 469 U.S. 387 (1985), applied and that Woodard was due at least minimal process because the state had made the clemency process a small but integral part of its system for adjudicating criminal cases. The court of appeals also held that the bar on the presence of counsel in clemency interviews was an unconstitutional condition. The United States Supreme Court granted certiorari.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Rehnquist, C.J.)

Concurrence (O’Connor, J.)

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