Ohio House To Vote On Bill Allowing Accused Officials To Choose Trial Venues
Under current law, if a state-level political leader gets in trouble, they are likely to be prosecuted in Franklin County because that’s the home of state government. But a new bill that would allow lawmakers who commit wrongdoing to choose their prosecutors is picking up steam.
The bill (HB 286) contains an amendment that allows the prosecution of a crime against elected lawmakers and other officials to be switched to their home county. Democratic Rep. David Leland has been leading the charge against the change.
“This would be the only time, the only time in the Ohio Revised Code for a public crime where the defendant would actually pick his venue, his prosecutor so why would we do that?," Leland asks.
For the first time in nearly 70 years, Franklin County has a Democratic prosecutor. And the former GOP House Speaker and a former head of the Ohio Republican Party are facing federal charges. They could face state charges if more wrongdoing is found.
The bill passed out of committee on party lines with Republicans voting to advance it and Democrats voting against it. The legislation is similar to some on the books in Texas that allowed Republican officials there who were under corruption charges to avoid facing Democratic prosecutors in Austin.