Dennis received his bachelor’s degree in philosophy from Indiana University in 1969; pursued a year-long master’s degree study in history at Miami University in 1972; and received his juris doctor degree in law from the Cleveland State University, Cleveland-Marshall College of Law in 1976.
Admitted to the practice of law in Ohio in November 1976, and thereafter before the United States District Court for both the Southern and Northern Districts of Ohio, Dennis has been a practicing criminal trial attorney since his admission to the bar in the capacities of chief assistant prosecutor, public defender and private criminal defense practitioner.
As a criminal trial attorney, Dennis has represented criminal defendants throughout the State of Ohio, trying over 104 criminal jury trials and appearing in over 69 criminal appellate cases before six Ohio courts of appeal, the Supreme Court of Ohio and the United States District Court, Northern District of Ohio, resulting in the creation of numerous appellate and Supreme Court precedents, and his certification since 1988 by the Supreme Court of Ohio as lead trial and appellate counsel in capital defense cases.
In his capacity as a private defense practitioner and as Director of the Portage County Public Defender’s Office from 1997-2017, Dennis has represented nineteen defendants charged with capital murder, aggravated murder and murder, achieving a jury trial acquittal rate of 71% in seven of those murder cases resolved by trial, equal to his acquittal rate for all other criminal cases which he has tried to jury during his career.
As a requested speaker, Dennis was a panelist member for the Law and Media symposiums at the Ohio State Bar Association, Columbus, Ohio, in 2002, 2005 and 2009; offered the presentation of How Defense Lawyers Do What They Do before the National Association of Legal Secretaries, Akron, Ohio, 2002; was a recurrent guest lecturer in the area of criminal defense practice to the criminal justice studies and paralegal programs at Kent State University, Mount Union College and Stark State College, 2003-2016; participated as featured speaker in the symposium entitled The Lamb Silenced: A Critical Analysis of Criminal Profiling Evidence at the annual convention of the American Psychological Association held in Los Angeles, California, August 1994, which addressed Dennis’ suppression of testimony by F.B.I. Special Agent John Douglas, author, criminal profiler and technical advisor to the movie Silence of the Lambs, in the capital murder trial of State v. Terry Lowe; instructed on the law of arrest, search and seizure atHocking Technical College, Athens, Ohio, in conjunction with the Ohio Peace Officer Training Academy, 1978-1980; and was the legal analyst for the PBS movie/documentary “The Confessions of Ned Kellogg,” 2016.