On Friday, March 29, 2024, Jermane Scott filed an original action against Judge Douglas Rastatter of the Clark County Court of Common Pleas in the Supreme Court of Ohio. Scott, an inmate at the London Correctional Institution, claimed that Judge Rastatter failed to rule on several post-conviction motions and applications related to Scott’s 1996 criminal case.

Scott is serving life without parole for the 1996 murder of Bertram Thomas. In 2023, Scott filed multiple post-conviction motions and applications seeking DNA testing and a new trial. On April 24, 2023, Scott applied for post-conviction DNA testing of biological material collected from the crime scene. He argued that DNA testing could reveal exculpatory evidence and prove his innocence.

Scott also filed a motion for a new trial on April 12, 2023, claiming a Brady violation involving undisclosed exculpatory evidence. Under Brady v. Maryland, prosecutors are required to disclose all material exculpatory evidence to the defendant. Scott said he discovered this evidence through a public records request.

When Judge Rastatter allegedly failed to rule on these filings within the required timeframes, Scott took further action. On May 30, 2023, he filed a motion asking the court to rule on his motions without a response from the prosecutor, as allowed under Ohio law. However, Judge Rastatter still did not issue any rulings.

As a result, Scott filed an original action in the Supreme Court on March 29, 2024, seeking writs of mandamus and procedendo to compel Judge Rastatter to fulfill his judicial duties. Writs can be used to require a lower court to proceed to judgment when they have refused or unduly delayed doing so.

In his filings, Scott argued he had a clear legal right to rulings and that Judge Rastatter had a duty to rule within statutory timeframes. He claimed excessive delays violated his constitutional rights. Scott’s motions had now been pending for over 10 months without determinations.

Upon receiving Scott’s Supreme Court filing, the high court issued a summons to Judge Rastatter. On June 21, 2023, the judge finally made some rulings. He ordered the Clark County prosecutor to determine if biological evidence still existed that could be subjected to DNA testing. The judge also held other pending motions in abeyance pending the DNA application results.

However, Scott argued this did not fulfill Judge Rastatter’s obligations, as the DNA application itself still lacked a final appealable ruling. Scott filed additional motions seeking deadlines and full rulings but said the judge continued refusing to issue final judgments on all pending matters.

Through this latest filing, Scott asked the Supreme Court to compel Judge Rastatter to finally rule on all outstanding issues from Scott’s 1996 criminal case.

Judge Rastatter‘s courtroom is located at 101 North Limestone St., Springfield, OH 45502, and can be reached at 937-521-1739.

A copy of the original filing can be found here.