Ohio courts have struggled to divine the constitutional mandate of the reasonable doubt standard while simultaneously attempting to give a viable interpretation to the state's relatively new manslaughter law. Their approach has resulted in an unusual definition of manslaughter which has proven particularly unworkable. In addition, several other problems have developed as a result of the enactment of the manslaughter law. First, the policy espoused by the Supreme Court in its decisions has been abrogated under Ohio law. Second, Ohio law nearly abandons the distinction between murder and manslaughter. This is especially dangerous in light of the presumption of criminal intent in Ohio law. Finally, Ohio's present definition of manslaughter relegates much of the language describing the offense to the status of excess verbiage. This has resulted in confusion at the trial court level. This Note will examine the development of Ohio's present manslaughter law, the framework against which its constitutionality must be judged, and the problems which develop under Ohio's approach.
Note, Voluntary Manslaughter after Patterson: An Analysis of Ohio Law, 33 Clev. St. L. Rev. 513 (1984-1985)