Friday, November 16, 2001

Ohio defender won't resign over Byrd case




By Mark Williams
The Associated Press

        NEWARK, Ohio — The Ohio public defender said Thursday that he will not resign despite criticism of how his office has handled the death penalty appeal of a convicted killer who is trying to prove he's innocent.

        The state attorney general has asked that Public Defender David Bodiker be fired after his office failed to disclose earlier several sworn statements in the case of John W. Byrd Jr.

        In a complaint to the Public Defender Commission, the attorney general accused Mr. Bodiker of unethical conduct that she said harmed the integrity of the judicial system. “Frankly, it is the best endorsement I could get that she doesn't like me,” David Bodiker said of Attorney General Betty Montgomery.

        The nine-member commission met Thursday in executive session and decided to refer Ms. Montgomery's complaints to the Ohio Supreme Court's disciplinary council, which investigates allegations of improper conduct by lawyers.

        “The attorney general has no business whatsoever telling the Public Defender Commission who the public defender should be,” said James Owen, the commission chairman and a Columbus lawyer. “If anything, the letter should serve as the Bodiker protection act.”

        Mr. Byrd, 37, is trying to prove that a robbery accomplice killed a Colerain Township convenience store clerk in 1983.

        Mr. Byrd had been scheduled to die Sept. 12, but the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati delayed the execution to allow for a hearing into his claim.

        At that hearing last week in Dayton, public defenders disclosed that the accomplice, John Brewer, had given five affidavits admitting that he killed the clerk, Monte Tewksbury. Only two of the affidavits had been revealed earlier.

       



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