In a move that undoubtedly caught Stark County Prosecutor John Ferrero by surprise, Stark County civic activist and attorney Craig T. Conley filed suit on behalf of Bethlehem Township resident Thomas Marcelli seeking interpretation of Ohio Revised Code Section 2949.11 (LINK) and that the statute is constitutional.
ORC 2949.11 has been at the fore of communications between Conley and Ferrero's office over the past week or so.
Conley demanded on behalf of client Thomas Marcelli that Ferrero file suit to recover to the Stark County treasury the sum of $5,000 which Stark County Court of Common Pleas Judge Frank Forchione ordered Scott D. Studer (on having pled guilty to multiple counts Illegal Use of a Minor in a Nudity-Oriented Material or Performance [R.C. 21907.323(A)(1)](F2)) to pay as a fine. However, not to be paid to the Stark treasury; but rather to the Sandy Hook Support Fund.
Readers will recall as reported in local media that Studer (a former Jackson High School freshman basketball coach) had videotaped numerous student athletes (since 2005) taking showers.
Here are links to blogs previously published by the SCPR on this topic:
It is rather obvious to the SCPR that he will not be hearing the case. Nor does The Report think that any Stark County Court of Common Pleas judge will preside in the case.
Conley's detractors say that his client's threat to sue Judge Forchione if the prosecutor declined to take the matter on was comeuppance on Conley's part because of his experience in McCauley.
Conley has accused Forchione of grandstanding in ordering that Studer pay the fine for the benefit of the Sandy Hook shooting victims' families rather than into the Stark County treasury as Conley says is required by Ohio law.
Assistant Prosecutor Ross Rhodes wrote Conley on Thursday a letter of refusal to proceed as requested.
Hence today's lawsuit.
Conley's tack in pursuing a remedy for Stark taxpayers through in the personage of client Marcelli is indeed novel and creative.
After the furor created in local media post-Studer-sentencing, undoubtedly many might be wondering whether on not Conley needed to proceed with the action filed today.
So far as the SCPR knows, Judge Forchione has been unwilling to comment to the media as to the impact of Conley's very public pursuit of recovering the fine money to the Stark treasury.
But one would think that the Judge might think twice about repeating the issuance of order requiring the paying fines anywhere other than the Stark treasury.
Obviously, in filing this action today, Conley thinks otherwise and is not willing to chance it that enduring the controversial experience in and of itself will be enough to prevent a repeat.
Conley has told the SCPR that he and his client fear that the Forchione sentencing precedent could be more commonplace if left unchecked by judicial review in the context of Ohio law.
To the SCPR this process is an example of democracy at work.
Whether or not one agrees with Conley, it is work like his as exemplified in this matter that is part and parcel of a vibrant democracy.