Arizona -(Ammoland.com)- Ohio bill HB 228 has passed out of the House Federalism and Interstate Relations Committe on a seven to three vote. The vote was along party lines, with seven Republicans voting for the bill and the three Democrats voting against the bill.
The Ohio legislature is looking to reform Ohio law on self-defense. Currently, Ohio appears to be the only state where the burden of proof in a self-defense case rests with the defender. When a person claims self-defense in Ohio, the defender has to prove that they acted in self-defense. In nearly every other state, the burden of proof is on the prosecution. They have to prove that the defender did *not* act in self defense. From the nraila.org:
HB 228 would place the burden of disproving a self-defense claim onto the prosecution, similar to how it is in almost every other state. Further, House Bill 228 would expand the locations that a person has no duty to retreat from before using force to defend themselves under both civil and criminal law.
Arizona flirted with this reversal of the traditional burden of proof for a decade. Prosecutors lobbied the legislature and reversed the ordinary burden of proof in 1996. It is much easier for prosecutors to obtain a conviction when the burden of proof is shifted to the defendant.
Harold Fish paid the price for the prosecutor's power grab.
Harold Fish killed a man who was charging at him and yelling that he was going to kill him. The first investigator on the scene reported it was such an open and shut case, he classified it as self defense and did not arrest Harold. The county prosecutor did not like that assessment, so they replaced the first investigator and arrested Harold Fish.
After much public outcry, involving three separate bills passed by the Arizona legislature to change the law, a long appeals process, two vetoes by Democrat Governor Janet Napolitano (a former prosecutor), $700,000 dollars spent on legal defenses, and three years in prison for Harold Fish, the trial court was found to be in error, and Fish was freed. He died three years later.
It is this type of abuse within the legal system that HB 228 is meant to prevent.
Prosecutors in our society have enormous power. They can lie. They can recruit false witnesses. They can have obvious conflicts of interest. They can repeatedly bring prosecutions against people who have not committed a crime, for personal reasons. The Supreme Court has ruled that they can not be sued for any of this. They have absolute immunity.
Prosecutors have incredible levels of power. Shifting the burden of proof in self defense cases away from the defendant is a small step in placing limits on that power.
Jim Irvine of Buckeye Firearms says that Ohio is the only state in the United States that has this burden of proof placed on the defender. From buckeyefirearms.com:
“Ohio is the ONLY state in the U.S. with this absurd requirement for burden of proof,” said Jim Irvine, Chairman of Buckeye Firearms Association. “It has been talked about in legal seminars around the country for years. It is an embarrassment to Ohio.
“People under attack should be able to defend their life. They should not have legal hurdles to jump before acting to defend themselves. They should not be second-guessed for years over a decision they were forced to make in a second. Ohio law should protect the victim, not the aggressor. This bill corrects this problem with Ohio law.”
HB 228 has 34 sponsors in the House, and one in the Senate. The Ohio House (the legislative assembly) has 99 members, of which 66 are Republicans. The Ohio Senate has 33 members, of which 24 are Republicans.
The Ohio governor is Republican John Richard Kasich, Jr.
Governor Kasich has been making noises about supporting various restrictions on gun ownership. Those restrictions include outlawing private sales, allowing police to confiscate guns on the basis of basis of “gun violence protection orders” without any due process, and others. It is unknown if Governor Kasich would sign this self defense reform bill.
©2018 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice is included.
About Dean Weingarten:
Dean Weingarten has been a peace officer, a military officer, was on the University of Wisconsin Pistol Team for four years, and was first certified to teach firearms safety in 1973. He taught the Arizona concealed carry course for fifteen years until the goal of constitutional carry was attained. He has degrees in meteorology and mining engineering, and recently retired from the Department of Defense after a 30 year career in Army Research, Development, Testing, and Evaluation.