January, 2023

Ohio: Trial Court Erred When It
Denied Successive Motion for Relief from
Judgment Based on Res Judicata

Petitioner was convicted by jury of CSC and related charges at a trial where DNA analysis was used as evidence. Petitioner filed a successive motion for relief from judgment based on the discovery of a DNA expert’s memo regarding the presence of an allele in the DNA sample that was not observed in petitioner’s blood samples. The trial court applied the doctrine of res judicata to conclude that petitioner’s evidence was not new. The Ohio Supreme Court reversed for an evidentiary hearing stating that the memo did more than simply restate the existence of the allele, but the State’s expert also acknowledged that the allele could not have originated from petitioner. The Court also noted that petitioner presented uncontradicted evidence that demonstrated that he was unavoidably prevented from discovering the memo within the time for filing a motion for new trial and that the new information, had it been available at trial, would likely have resulted in a different outcome. State v. Hatton, ___ N.E.3d ___ (11-10-22, WL 16841856).