COLUMBUS — Prosecuting Attorneys from around the state of Ohio recently had the opportunity to meet with members of the Ohio House of Representatives as part of the Ohio Prosecuting Attorneys Association’s Advocacy Day.
Gallia County Prosecutor Jason Holdren, Assistant Prosecutor Jeremy Fisher, Meigs County Prosecutor James K. Stanley and Assistant Prosecutor Jeff Adkins were among those attending Advocacy Day and the OPAA Conference this week.
Stanley met with State Rep. Jay Edwards (R-Nelsonville) at the Ohio Statehouse and the Vern Riffe Center for Government and the Arts. Stanley and Edwards discussed proposed, pending, and recently-passed legislation regarding drug addiction and treatment, domestic violence, “stand your ground” and self-defense, the death penalty, wrongful imprisonment compensation, and cost of living adjustments.
“I’m glad I had the opportunity to meet with Representative Edwards regarding issues important to the Ohio Prosecuting Attorneys Association, the Meigs County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office, and the criminal justice system as a whole, including victims of crime, defendants suffering from drug addiction and mental health issues, and the local inmate housing dilemma,” Stanley said.
“I enjoy utilizing the role of prosecuting attorney to advocate for or against certain legislation and working with our legislators to ensure laws are passed that benefit all Ohioans and, specifically, all Meigs Countians,” added Stanley.
Stanley observed a health committee hearing in the William McKinley Hearing Room in which drug addiction treatment and modification of laws pertaining to the regulation of controlled substances, amongst other matters, were discussed. Stanley also attended a session of the House of Representatives in which various bills were voted upon.
In addition, former State Senator and State Rep. Jimmy Stewart gave Stanley a personal tour of the Statehouse, which included special access to both the Senate floor and the House floor and a discussion of the Statehouse architecture, artwork, and historical significance of specific areas of the Statehouse, including the towering cupola, the portico where Abraham Lincoln delivered a speech, the Speaker of the House’s chair crafted to President Lincoln’s exact height to commemorate a speech he gave from the House floor, and the rotunda where President Lincoln’s body laid in repose two weeks after being assassinated.
Stanley, Holdren and Fisher attended the ceremonial unveiling of the new exhibit in the Ohio Statehouse Museum Education Center featuring the original copies of the Ohio Constitution of 1802 and the Ohio Constitution of 1851. Those in attendance at the ceremony included Ohio Governor John Kasich, former governors Bob Taft and Dick Celeste, Senate President Larry Obhof, Speaker of the House Ryan Smith, and Ohio Supreme Court Justices Sharon Kennedy and Patrick Fischer. Stanley also toured the Thomas J. Moyer Ohio Judicial Center, which houses the Ohio Supreme Court.
Stanley and Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Jeff Adkins attended the 2018 Ohio Prosecuting Attorneys Association Annual Meeting on November 29 and 30, 2018 in Columbus. Topics covered during the meeting included United States Supreme Court updates, firearms prosecutions, digital evidence, and legal professionalism.
Holdren and Fisher had the opportunity to meet with Ohio Speaker of the House and Bidwell native Ryan Smith.
“The officials at OPAA worked really hard to connect their prosecutors with a state senator or representative,” said Holdren. “We were able to be connected with Ryan and we touched base on a number of items that prosecutors in general were interested in. It was good.”
“So, the strangulation legislation was a big point for us,” Holdren continued. “Right now, the law stands that essentially domestic violence is a misdemeanor of the first-degree. It only bumps up if you can show serious physical harm and if you can show that, it bumps it up to a felony of the second-degree. With felonious assault, you’re usually talking about shootings, stabbings, broken bones and those sorts of things. There’s nothing really in between. Something of great interest to us is that we enhance the penalty if we can show that during some sort of an assault there was strangulation used.”
Other topics covered with the speaker, said Holdren, included the increased presence of fentanyl and carfentanyl in drug trafficking. He said Gallia representatives discussed concern with what appears to be a growing trend in motor vehicles being operated while drivers are reportedly impaired by more than just alcohol and how to tackle the situation.
“Other legislation we briefly touched on was dismemberment issues,” said Holdren. “Which has absolutely affected Gallia County…It was very eye opening for us to see what he’s (Smith) actually doing. His staff were very good to us and gave us a tour of the House Chambers and the like. Ryan also mentioned us during their session as a special guest.”
A portion of the information provided by Meigs County Prosecutor James K. Stanley and Gallia Prosecutor Jason Holdren.