Amanda Lee Myers
CINCINNATI: A man who was freed from prison after spending 21 years on Ohio’s death row because of a botched prosecution can’t pursue his federal lawsuit against the county prosecutor’s office, an appeals court ruled Thursday.
A three-judge panel of the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati ruled that Joe D’Ambrosio’s lawsuit amounts to a failed attempt to hold Cuyahoga County accountable for actions by individuals.
“There is no question that the individual prosecutors involved in D’Ambrosio’s case violated rights secured to him by the Constitution,” the panel ruled, but the lawsuit failed to establish that their actions were part of a larger pattern of corruption at the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor’s Office in Cleveland.
D’Ambrosio, 52, was imprisoned after his conviction of murder in the 1988 death of 19-year-old Tony Klann, whose body was found in a creek at a Cleveland park.
He was released in 2010 when a federal judge ruled that prosecutors failed to provide evidence that could have exonerated him, including that the more likely suspect in the killing was a man who had been accused of raping Klann’s roommate and against whom Klann had agreed to testify.
D’Ambrosio also has a case pending in the Ohio Court of Claims in Columbus, seeking reimbursement for wrongful imprisonment. If it’s successful, he stands to win more than $1 million.