"Because DNA evidence has become crucial in criminal cases, it is imperative that DNA material is correctly handled, analyzed and preserved," said Robert F. Ware, president of the OSBA. "Where DNA testing is flawed, the guilty may escape justice, while the innocent may be punished for crimes they did not commit."
That statement was made Monday, in Columbus, and was in agreement with Strickland, who says he supports a review of current DNA procedures. Supreme Court of Ohio Chief Justice Thomas Moyer also has said he generally is supportive of a statewide evidence-preservation law, as well as forming an innocence commission.
"Our (OSBA) president, Rob Ware, is responding to a lot of the information that has been in the (news) papers lately," said Ken Brown, OSBA director of Public Information and Media Relations. "There was, a while back, a big to-do about death penalty cases and the role of DNA."
Ware said OSBA is committed to promoting the effective and efficient administration of justice.
"The governor agrees that reforms are needed in Ohio, to ensure that DNA evidence is collected, retained and protected in a matter to make it available to both prosecutors and defense attorneys, and in both pre-trials and post-conviction," said Keith Dailey, a spokesman for the governor.
Scioto County Prosecutor Mark Kuhn said, while finding a better or more effective way to gather and protect DNA tests is important, he finds the current system very effective, which he utilizes from the Bureau of Criminal Investigation and Identification.
"If there's better procedures out there, I'd be willing to take a look at them, but personally, I can't think of any issues we've had here," he said. "Personally, I've been very satisfied with the way BCI&I handles evidence, gathering of evidence and testing methods."
Across the country, more than 200 inmates have been freed because of DNA tests, including six from Ohio. Four of those came before the state created a formal DNA testing program in 2003. Since then, 313 Ohio inmates have applied for them, but only 14 tests have been done. In some cases, evidence has been lost or destroyed, according to The Associated Press.
"When it comes to the testing and handling of DNA evidence in criminal matters, the state of Ohio should examine its procedures and consider improvements," Ware said. "We applaud their willingness to review these matters, agree that such review is in the interest of justice and encourage all interested parties to participate in the review process."
So, how could examining the way DNA is handled be accomplished?
"I think what's happening here is that no one really knows exactly what the answer is, but there have been some concerns about some of that testing and the reliability of that testing," Brown said. "And a review of those procedures and those organizations in the way that evidence is used could bring about results that would make the testing more reliable."
He said no one involved in attempting to gain some answers knows exactly what to do at this time.
"What we are simply trying to do here is to demonstrate the bar's support for that consideration," Brown said. "I think the chief justice has some ideas in that regard, and I think the governor has some ideas in that regard. I don't know that we have any specific recommendations, other than it be considered."
Ware completed his statement with, "While supporting the review of testing and handling of DNA evidence, we remain respectful of the impact such review may have on the victims of crimes. We do not advocate reopening cases on a random basis, but do see the merit for everyone concerned to be certain that DNA evidence is not fraught with errors."
Dailey said Strickland believes in a prompt protocol.
"The governor believes there should be a reasonable expectation for a timely and a rational response to his requests," he said. "Not every request will be legitimate, but he believes it's important that we do everything we can to be as careful and as accurate as we can possibly be."
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS contributed to this story. FRANK LEWIS can be reached at (740) 353-3101, ext. 232.