Life sentence overturned

Teaven Curtiss has maintained his innocence from day one. In June of 2020, he was indicted for allegations of the most serious kind. At Teaven’s trial, an entirely false narrative was presented to the jury. Despite his claims of innocence, a jury convicted Teaven of rape. He was given a life sentence.

This was not the end of the story.

Upon his conviction, Teaven’s family and friends reached out and retained our appellate team at Pinales Stachler. Curtiss Appeal Brief; Curtiss Reply Brief

Teaven successfully appealed his conviction to the Second District Court of appeals. In a 67-page opinion, the Court of Appeals agreed that the trial judge had withheld material and exculpatory evidence. Significant evidence of Teaven’s innocence was contained in child protective services records, that only the judge was permitted to review, due to the confidentiality associated with such records. The judge failed to turn over the relevant portions of the records to defense counsel, despite having a legal duty to do so. Other errors were found to have occurred as well. Court of Appeals Opinion Vacating Life Sentence

Upon remand, Teaven now intends to fully prove his innocence. He has filed motions to dismiss his case in light of the due process violations he suffered at the hands of both the trial judge and the Montgomery County Prosecutor’s Office. He has also requested the trial judge recuse herself so a different judge can handle the motions to dismiss in his case. Motion to Dismiss for Judicial Due Process Violations; Motion to Dismiss for State Due Process Violations; Motion to Recuse Trial Judge

As argued in one of the motions to dismiss,

[T]he overall neutrality of the judicial process is implicated by a proven example of a judge willfully withholding exculpatory information to help ensure a conviction and help the state present an entirely false narrative to the jury. The community’s “sense of fair play and decency” is upended. The “integrity of the proceedings” is left unprotected, not only in the public’s eye, but also in the reality of the courtroom experience for defendants. In sum, a judge willfully withholding evidence of the innocence of the accused must be deemed fundamentally unfair.

This case has received a lot of news coverage in Dayton, Ohio. Hopefully, now, the truth will finally come to light.

The Pinales Stachler team of Eric Eckes, Stephanie Kessler, and Molly Tolbert has dedicated countless hours to overturning Teaven’s wrongful conviction.

The work will not be complete until Teaven is fully exonerated.