The Ohio Supreme Court has decided that a judge stepped over the legal line when he got the prosecution involved in his sentencing opinion of a woman convicted in the 2001 killing of her ex-husband.
The court, however, did not nullify the conviction of Donna M. Roberts, who could still face the death penalty in resentencing.
According to news accounts of the ruling:
The majority opinion, by Justice Maureen O'Connor, said the trial court's delegation of any amount of responsibility in the sentencing opinion did not comply with state law.Roberts is the first woman sentenced to death in Ohio since that state resumed executions in 1999.
"Nor does it comport with our firm belief that the consideration and imposition of death are the most solemn of all the duties that are imposed on a judge," O'Connor wrote. "The scales of justice may not be weighted even slightly by one with an interest in the ultimate outcome."