On Monday, April 29, 2024, Charles L. Watkins filed a notice of appeal in the Supreme Court of Ohio challenging Judge Joseph V. McNamara’s previous ruling in the Lucas County Court of Common Pleas.

Watkins was convicted of aggravated murder in 1985 in Henry County, and his case was transferred to Lucas County for trial. He has since been incarcerated at North Central Correctional Institution. In 2019, Watkins filed a motion in the Lucas County court alleging he did not receive a proper judgment of conviction according to criminal rules. He argued the court lacked jurisdiction over his case due to this.

However, Judge McNamara denied Watkins’ motion. In his ruling, Judge McNamara found that the Sixth District Court of Appeals had already determined Watkins’ conviction was valid when they upheld it on direct appeal in 1987. As such, the law of the case doctrine prevented McNamara from overriding the earlier appellate decision. McNamara also reviewed microfilm records of the journal entries from Watkins’ 1985 trial and determined they sufficiently documented the jury’s guilty verdict and sentence as required.

In his new appeal, Watkins claims Judge McNamara and Lucas County Assistant Prosecutor Lauren Carpenter “acted in concert to commit fraud upon the court” regarding the journal entries. He alleges the entries provided by Carpenter and relied upon by McNamara were fabricated. However, McNamara had dismissed similar arguments before, finding no evidence the journal entries were inaccurate based on his own examination of court records.

The appeal raises the issue to the Supreme Court of Ohio. It remains to be seen whether the high court will agree to hear the case. But for now, Judge McNamara’s ruling in the lower court continues to stand, rejecting Watkins’ assertions of fraudulent documents and maintaining his conviction is valid based on the original trial records. The new appeal seeks to overturn McNamara’s decision from late 2019.

Judge McNamara‘s courtroom is located at Lucas County Common Pleas Court, 4th Floor – Courtroom #9, 700 Adams, Toledo, OH 43604-5678, and can be reached at (419)213-4579.

A copy of the original filing can be found here.