Anyone living in Stark County who has the least sense of political awareness, knows about the ongoing political battle of George T. Maier to have staying power as Stark County sheriff.
In his quest to be sheriff, Maier has been in, he's been out and now he is in again.
But for how long?
Back on February 12th, the SCPR captured Maier on video on he question of whether he is to be a sheriff "on a short term basis" or "over the longer term?"
We should find out this week whether or not interim Sheriff Tim Swanson will continue to wage war with Maier via quo warranto actions on the question.
There were rumblings late last week that Maier forces had prevailed on Swanson to drop that fight.
But even if he does, Maier might not be "home free."
As pointed out in a SCPR blog last week, with Maier taking out petitions to run in the May, 2014 Stark County Democratic Party primary, the Stark County Board of Elections has a role to play as to whether or not to certify Maier as being qualified under the statutory law of Ohio to be sheriff.
You can bet your bottom dollar that the likes of Johnnie A. Maier, Jr and his Board of Elections member-minions (Phil Giavasis and Sam Ferruccio, the Dems on the BOE) are putting pressure on the Republican members (Cline & Braden) to fall-in behind George gloss over whether or not he meets Ohio's legal standards (i.e. "the rule of law) to be sheriff.
So it will be interesting to watch the Board of Elections even if Swanson abandons his effort.
Deserving of equal billing vis-a-vis the quo warranto fight is the civil suit filed by Stark County resident and taxpayer Thomas Marcelli (representing Stark County taxpayers, in general) versus Maier to recover compensation paid to Maier and expenditures made by him (primarily in re-branding the sheriff's office with his name) for the period - according to the Ohio Supreme Court (Swanson v. Maier, quo warranto, November 6, 2013) that he was not legally the sheriff of Stark County (February 12, 2013 through November 6, 2013).
Since Marcelli's original filing (which was amended on December 13th):
- Maier's attorney (Rosenberg of Roetzel & Andress) has filed a "motion to dismiss," (December 10, 2013)
- Which Marcelli via his attorney Craig Conley has rejoined (December 19th) with a "motion to strike" coupled with a "motion to disqualify" Maier's attorney,
- Which Rosenberg has responded to (December 24th [presumed filing date] with pleadings:
- "Memorandum In Opposition to Motion to Disqualify (Memorandum)," and
- "Motion for Sanctions (Sanctions)."
The SCPR sees the civil arena aspect of the fight as a veritable "David v. Goliath-esque" legal confrontation that seems sure to leave the defeated legal gladiator much worse off for having waged the fight.
Hence, The Report names the fight as being the: "Stark County World Series of Legal In-fighting!"
To understand where the progression of the Marcelli (Conley)/Maier (Rosenberg) legal fight stands, the reader of this blog should refresh him/herself on this "civil?" battle by clicking on the links provided by The Report of each cited aspect of legal pleadings filed.
In today's blog, the SCPR reviews Rosenberg's "Memorandum In Opposition To Motion to Disqualify Counsel" and his "Motion for Sanctions; 19 pages in length.
As in his motion to dismiss, Rosenberg appears (in the Memorandum) to go after Conley's jugular once again as it seemed to The Report to be the case in the motion to dismiss (i.e. the obvious personal attack on Conley), to wit:
In an off-hand sort of way, Rosenberg responds to Marcelli's amended and "verified" complaint (apparently still relying on his original motion to dismiss) in implying that the Conley-on-behalf-of-Marcelli has abandoned? the complaint in favor of a tangential issue of disqualifying Rosenberg in "a vexatious filing."
Notwithstanding Rosenberg's seeming "sleight of hand," the complaint in amended form remains in tact no matter what impression Rosenberg may wish to the public to believe.
To the SCPR, Rosenberg's Motion for Sanctions is the equivalent to Conley's Motion to Disqualify.
To The Report, he may point the finger at Conley but to the discerning he is to be "painted with the same brush" as with which he paints.
Readers of this blog should bear-in-mind the SCPR's "half-a-dozen of one" (Conley's Motion to Disqualify) and "six of another" (Rosenberg's Motion for Sanctions) point of view as one reads on. Otherwise, Rosenberg will have succeeded in marginalize Conley without he himself being "hoisted by his own petard." A fair minded reader will not allow Rosenberg to escape scrutiny by his own standard.
That Rosenberg continues his "legal" name calling (started in his motion to dismiss) in this latest pleading is clearly indicated in his use of the word "vexatious" as seen in the extract from his pleading as set forth above.
A legal action or proceeding initiated maliciously and without Probable Cause by an individual who is not acting in Good Faith for the purpose of annoying or embarrassing an opponent.Getting deeper into the Rosenberg arguments:
The Report's take on Rosenberg's arguments against his disqualification, to wit:
- that he (Rosenberg) did not make a false statement (as alleged by Conley) in chastising Rosenberg for using the word "duly" in describing how Maier came to be sheriff (in the February 5th SCDP-CC proceeding),
- SCPR COMMENT: Is Rosenberg serious?
- To be arguing that Marcelli/Conley have abandoned the complaint seems just a tad silly to the SCPR.
- There is no doubt in the the SCPR's thinking that Conley does not personally like Rosenberg and just as soon not have him on the other side of the case and it could be that seeking to disqualify Rosenberg does not advance the Marcelli/taxpayer cause because of the distraction but that is something quite different from abandoning the premise for being in court in the first place.
- Isn't Rosenberg himself by focusing on the disqualification factor suggesting that there may well be something to the Marcelli complaint that he would rather not deal with?
- SCPR COMMENT: The "duly" part of the legal jargon fight for laymen is like "two ships passing in the night."
- Conley sees "duly" in terms of the Supreme Court having ruled on November 6th that the SCDP-CC failed to "legally" appoint Maier because of he did not meet one of perhaps a number of criteria required by Ohio law for one to hold office as sheriff,
- Rosenberg, understandably, wants to focus not on the substance of the result (i.e. Maier's being Stark County illegal sheriff "from the beginning" of being appointed) but on things like taking a vote in accordance with Democratic Party bylaws and the SCDP-CC making a determination (merited or not in the mind of a body [e.g. the Supreme Court] on the qualification issue.
- SCPR COMMENT: An obvious "bone of contention" that Judge Farmer will have to rule on.
- that he (Rosenberg) does not have a "conflict in interest" in his having a "dog in this fight" (the SCPR's words) in his being paid $20,000 to defend Maier in Swanson v. Maier, quo warranto either in the direct sense nor in the derivative sense of having provided Maier with speculated and alleged "faulty" legal advice (re: indemnification/malpractice).
- that Rosenberg (and co-counsel Traven) are not "material witness" and "necessary" witnesses to what advice they gave Maier in Swanson v. Maier, quo warranto and therefore not into a "conflict in interest" situation.
- SCPR COMMENT: It could be that Rosenberg will convince Judge Farmer that his take on this issue is supported in law whereas Conley's is not.
- The Report can see both sides of the argument but Rosenberg's is on procedure (i.e. legal standing [which makes laymen's eyes glaze over] and what seems to the SCPR to be circular reasoning.
- "To be debated" reasoning? Yes.
- Conley: Maier was never the sheriff of Stark County and therefore retroactively the Stark commissioners could not pay his legal fees. Anytime one receives public monies without legal authority, do they not have to be paid back?
- If so, will not Rosenberg have to indemnify Maier for presumably taking the money "on the advice of counsel?"
- If so, could Rosenberg be accountable to Maier in damages on Conley's alleged premise and supposition of potential of malpractice in providing the speculated giving of such advice?
- Rosenberg: In a sort of way (color of law/good faith) seeks to establish that there was legal authority to pay Maier and such ends any discussion of any potential legal accountability of Rosenberg to Maier and therefore no possibility of conflict in interest on the payment issue which authority negates any need for Maier to assert "on advice of counsel" as a basis for action.
- SCPR COMMENT: Again, a "bone of contention" to be decided by Judge Farmer.
That he used 19 pages of briefing to make his case that the Marcelli/Conley motion to disqualify was a frivolous filing is testament enough in the opinion of the SCPR that, while it may have been "unwise" for Conley to get sidetracked on an issue of which particular legal counsel he was going to contend with on the merits of Marcelli's amended complaint, such number of pages (to repeat: 19 pages) in and of itself shows that the Marcelli case deserves to be heard on its merits/demerits and that both the motion to disqualify and motion for sanctions are both "red herrings."
To repeat the theme of this blog.
All the motion to disqualify and the motion for sanctions indicates to the SCPR (and the attendant personalized language used by both sides) is that Conley and Rosenberg do not like each other.
One last point on Rosenberg and his apparent attempt to divert attention away from the underlying Marcelli "for the taxpayers" complaint is his focus on wanting a hearing on his own side issue, to wit:
The SCPR was mighty happy to see him request a hearing.
And The Report hopes the court itself will schedule a number of hearings. But they should mainly be on the complaint itself and "only" tangentially on the motion to disqualify and the motion for sanctions in terms of clearing them off the table.
The Report plans on being in court to videotape each and every such hearing.
It will be a real test for Judge Kristin Farmer to stay focused on "the real issue" in this case (i.e. whether or not Stark County taxpayers have a case to be reimbursed for the Maier receipts and spending) and not get sidetracked on whether or not Rosenberg has a "conflict in interest" or whether or not Conley's client has made "a frivolous pleading."
To The Report the latter efforts are two lawyers going after each other because they plain do not like each other.
As Stark County commissioner Thomas Bernabei repeatedly says to The Report and all within his hearing that the Stark Dems' fuss as to whom will be Stark County sheriff is "the gift that keeps giving" in terms of the ongoing controversy in the context of side battles.
Of course, the media is a chief beneficiary of all the legal wrangling.
And it appears to the SCPR that we Stark Countians find ourselves witnessing a sort of Stark County World Series of Legal Infighting courtesy of Messers Conley and Rosenberg as manifested by their side issues.
How long will Judge Farmer allow this legal gamesmanship to go on?