Attorneys are faced with an ethical dilemma when they represent indigent defendants who wish to appeal a criminal sentence, but that appeal would be frivolous. In 1967, the United States Supreme Court, in Anders v. California, introduced a procedure protecting the rights of indigent defendants that balanced the ethical concerns of an attorney forced to file a frivolous appeal. In 2000, the Court in Smith v. Robbins held that the states can set their own procedure for the aforementioned ethical dilemma, so long as it protects the rights of indigent defendants in compliance with the Fourteenth Amendment. This has led many states to reject, follow, or modify the holding in Anders v. California. As of 2020, the Supreme Court of Ohio has yet to address whether it will follow Anders. Because of this, the twelve Ohio Appellate districts are left without adequate guidance, resulting in a district split where some districts follow Anders and others do not. Consequently, indigent defendants are receiving vastly different treatment on appeal throughout the state. The Ohio Supreme Court needs to address Anders to set a uniform procedure throughout the state. When it does, the Court should find that—with a few alterations—Anders v. California is a sufficient procedure to handle frivolous appeals raised by indigent defendants.
Matthew D. Fazekas,
An Open Letter to the Ohio Supreme Court: Setting a Uniform Standard on Anders Briefs,
68 Clev. St. L. Rev.
available at https://engagedscholarship.csuohio.edu/clevstlrev/vol68/iss3/9