A U.S. District Court judge last month denied another legal attempt by convicted former Athens County Sheriff Pat Kelly to have several charges against him dismissed or for him to get a new trial.

The “writ of habeas corpus” filed by Kelly in January 2018 in the Southern District of Ohio U.S. District Court, and denied by a judge late last month, is the latest in a series of Kelly’s attempts to challenge his 2015 conviction on 17 felonies and one misdemeanor.

Kelly, 69, remains incarcerated at the Franklin Medical Center, a medical treatment prison in Columbus, and his habeas corpus petition filed with the Southern District of Ohio U.S. Court, addressed to Warden Rhonda Richard, asked the court to determine that his “constitutional rights were violated, and he is entitled to a dismissal” of two charges mentioned in the petition, or in the alternative, a “new trial.” 

The two charges Kelly hoped to have dismissed, according to the petition he filed with the federal District Court, are for the single count of engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity, a.k.a. “racketeering,” and a single count of perjury. Kelly’s main grounds for this request were that the judge in his original trial issued “erroneous jury instructions” on the charges against him; that Kelly had “ineffective assistance” from his attorney at trial; and that there wasn’t sufficient evidence to convict him on the racketeering and perjury charges.

U.S. District Judge George C. Smith in his judgment on Jan. 27, however, ruled that Kelly’s writ be dismissed with prejudice meaning he cannot file a writ again on the same grounds, and additionally that Kelly be denied a “certificate of appealability,” with the District Court certifying to the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals that “any appeal would be objectively frivolous and should not be permitted,” court records show. Smith made that decision largely based on procedural grounds, affirming a magistrate judge’s arguments that Kelly submitted insufficient evidence to back up his claims.

This essentially means that Kelly has mostly run out of options to appeal his case, especially with his release date fast approaching in 2022.

Kelly already had attempted to appeal his conviction twice, first losing his appeal in early January 2017 in the Fourth District Court of Appeals after it heard his case. He then asked the Ohio Supreme Court to review his case after the appellate court rejection of his arguments; the Ohio Supreme Court rejected that request. 

The original charges against Kelly largely relate to his selling of county property to a local scrap yard and pocketing the proceeds, taking cash from campaign donations, and illegally purchasing meals for himself with law-enforcement funds.

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