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UC Blue Ash Professor Wins Landmark Case in Ohio Supreme Court

A conviction in a Cincinnati murder trial is overturned after UCBA professor Wendy Calaway successfully argues that the defendant's constitutional rights were violated.

Date: 3/26/2015 12:00:00 AM
By: Pete Gemmer
Phone: (513) 936-1632

UC ingot   UC Blue Ash College professor Wendy Calaway took an appeal in a murder trial all the way to the Ohio Supreme Court and won, setting a new precedent for criminal cases across the state.

Calaway, who is a practicing attorney and professor in the Behavioral Science Department at UC Blue Ash, appeared before the justices last spring to argue that they should overturn Joseph Harris’ murder conviction and award a new trial. She stated that by allowing the testimony of a court-appointed clinical psychologist after Harris abandoned his insanity defense, the defendant’s constitutional rights were violated. In a recent ruling, the justices voted unanimously to overturn the conviction and award a new trial.

“This is a big case for defendants across the state,” said Calaway. “It makes it clear that prosecutors cannot call in an expert to testify about the credibility of a witness, when their area of expertise is not relevant.”
Wendy Calaway in court
Wendy Calaway presents her case to the Ohio Supreme Court.

Harris was indicted in October 2010 for the murder of Shane Gulleman during an apparent drug deal. The facts in the case are a little gray since the two men were alone when the alleged crime occurred. Harris pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity. The state appointed a clinical psychologist to evaluate Harris, and she found him competent to stand trial. By the time the trial began in June 2011, Harris withdrew his insanity plea, but prosecutors still proceeded to put the psychologist on the stand to testify.

Calaway was not involved in the original trial. The defense attorney in the case asked the presiding judge to appoint Calaway to work on the appeal. She has been taking on more appellate work recently and is gaining a reputation as an expert in the field. “I find the appellate process very interesting and this type of work gives me more freedom with my schedule since I don’t have to be in the courtroom as often.”

Calaway was in the courtroom when she presented her argument to the Supreme Court and her class was able to watch through closed circuit TV. “It was a great experience for me and a learning experience for them. We talked about the case and appeal process in class,” said Calaway.

Calaway teaches criminal justice, criminology and corrections courses at UC Blue Ash. She uses her experience as a practicing attorney to provide real-life cases for her students and to bring judges, law enforcement officers and even federal agents to the classroom.

UC Blue Ash College is a regional college within the University of Cincinnati. It offers one of the best values in higher education with access to a nationally recognized UC education in nearly 50 degrees and certificates, as well as tuition that is about half of most colleges and universities. The college is located on a scenic 135-acre wooded campus in the heart of Blue Ash, Ohio. To learn more, call 513-745-5600, visit us online at www.ucblueash.edu, like us on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter.