In follow-up on Ohio prosecutorial misconduct investigation, grantee examines questionable convictions

Michael Buehner hugs his aunt Lisa Cengia after a jury in Cuyahoga County found him not guilty of murder on Wednesday, July 19, 2023, two years after his two-decade-old conviction was overturned by an Ohio appeals court.

The team of journalists that produced an 18-month investigation of prosecutorial misconduct in Ohio published a follow-up story showing that, in several cases, prosecutors withheld key evidence that could have led to acquittals. With support from the Fund, Columbia Journalism Investigations, NPR and member stations WVXU/Cincinnati Public Radio, Ideastream Public Media and the Ohio Newsroom analyzed more than 1,600 appellate cases and built a first-of-its-kind database of prosecutorial misconduct. In a recent follow-up story, the team zeroed in on 100 cases where prosecutors were accused of withholding police reports, witness statements and other important evidence from defendants; known as Brady violations, these omissions can lead judges to overturn convictions. During the course of the investigation, the Oho Office of Disciplinary Counsel clarified its policy on prosecutorial misconduct claims and committed to create an “ethics boot camp” for county prosecutors statewide.