Sounds like Ohio prosecutors have a lot of time on their hands.
No crying in court
Butler ‘s Piper says defense lawyers’ tears can sway jury
BY SHEILA MCLAUGHLIN | SMCLAUGHLIN@ENQUIRER.COM
HAMILTON – Quit your crying and begging!
That’s the theme of an offbeat motion that Butler County prosecutors filed this week trying to keep defense lawyers from getting emotional in death-penalty cases.
The request was filed less than two weeks after defense lawyer Greg Howard shed a few tears and begged jurors to spare Harvey Johnson’s life for killing of Kiva Gazaway of Liberty Township.
It might have worked. Johnson got life in prison instead.
Prosecutors go toe-to-toe with Howard again in August in the case of James O’Hara, who is accused in the July 2007 fatal stabbing of Stanley Lawson, 38, of Middletown .
“Crying brings out almost a Pavlovian response in some people,” Prosecutor Robin Piper said, denying that the motion is meant to single out Howard.
It doesn’t accuse Howard specifically of crying on cue. But it mentions that defense lawyers are known to do that – even trained to do it – as part of their strategy.
“Our motion is more about requiring an attorney to maintain composure during closing arguments and during the trial,” Piper said. “Prosecutors are held to that standard. Defense lawyers should also be held to a similar standard.”
Judge Andrew Nastoff will listen to lawyers argue about it July 18 in Butler County Common Pleas Court .
Howard denies being able to make his tear ducts flow in front of a jury.
“It’s an emotional thing. You’ve invested a lot of time and effort in these cases, and you’re trying to save your client’s life, and occasionally it happens,” he said.
To Howard, the prosecutor’s motion is nothing more than a legal maneuver aimed at bettering their chances at sending O’Hara to death row.
“They want the death-penalty verdict so badly that they’re doing whatever they can to try to get one,” Howard said.