COMMISSIONER & BOARD PRESIDENT
EXECUTIVE SESSION CANCELLED
CRAIG CONLEY FORCED CANCELLATION?
CRAIG CONLEY FORCED CANCELLATION?
From a January 25, 2013 SCPR blog:
Reacting to an order recently put on by Stark County Court of Common Pleas judge Frank Forchione in the Scott D. Studer case that as part of his sentence on having pled guilty in multiple counts Illegal Use of a Minor in a Nudity-Oriented Material or Performance [R.C. 21907.323(A)(1)](F2) included a requirement that he pay a fine of $5,000.00 "to be forwarded the victims of Newtown, Connecticut tragedy," [civic activist and local attorney] Conley fired off a letter (January 23rd) to Stark County Prosecutor John Ferrero asking him, on behalf of a client, to institute a civil action against Forchione to recover the money to the Stark County treasury.Fast forward to today.
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.
Conley was poised to have his office administrative person at the filing station of the Stark County clerk of courts this morning at 8:30 a.m. in order to file a law suit on behalf of client Thomas Marcelli against Forchione should the action demanded of Stark prosecutor John Ferrero go unheeded.
For more background on the demand, here are links to two prior blogs written by the SCPR detailing the reasons why Conley has pressed Ferrero's office for action.
Rhodes letter was enough to give Conley "pause for thought."
Conley says so that he has time to read and analyze the Rhodes legal citation of Wilson v. Neu (LINK).
Moreover, Conley says that if his analysis leads him believe that Rhodes is correct in his statement "it is doubtful that such an action can be maintained," then a suit will not be filed.
The case has to do with whether or not a judge is immune from lawsuit for the type of order that Judge Forchione made in the Studer case.
Other important language in the Rhodes letter for Conley to digest has to do with a possible determination that the prosecutor's office deems itself to have a conflict in interest (as previously posited by Conley and implication that the Board of Stark County Commissioners would become a party in interest because appointing a special counsel (and the appointment of a visiting judge) would entail expenditures from the county treasury.
Presumably, Rhodes is setting up a justification for whomever serves as counsel to qualify to meet in executive session with the commissioners as the case proceeds.
The SCPR believes that impliedly he is suggesting to Conley that he could be responsible to reimburse the county for those costs should he proceed with the case and lose.
Another interesting development in the matter today was the cancellation by commissioners of a scheduled executive session to discuss the Conley demand.
On Tuesday Conley wrote the commissioners (excerpts) to wit:
The first thing asked by President Tom Bernabei when he convenes a commissioners meeting is whether or not any amendments to the meeting agenda are requested by parties to the meeting.
Chief Administrator Mike Hanke piped in that he did indeed have an amendment. The amendment was to excise the executive session from the agenda. (see video below).
Even if Conley concludes that he does not have an effective means to hold Judge Forchione accountable for what he believes the judge was not entitled as a matter of law to do, Conley performed a public service by raising the issue.
The Report believes that most everyday Stark Countians support Forchione's order. So what Conley has stirred up is not a popular thing for him to have done.
The Report takes Conley at his word.
He raised the issue not because he personally objected to a charity being benefited. But because he is first and foremost dedicated to the "rule of law."
Even those who support what Judge Forchione did should honor our system of jurisprudence and respect those who have the courage to take unpopular actions.
After the meeting, the SCPR sat down and talked to Commissioner Bernabei about the decision to remove the executive session from the agenda.