It is a sad state of affairs for Stark County political subdivision government when the top nominees for the SCPR "Bottom 10 List" (List) are judges.
#2 OR #1 WORST STARK COUNTY ELECTED OFFICIAL
Democrat Eddie Elum of the Massillon Municipal Court.
Republican Dixie Park of the Stark County Probate Court.
The Report thinks that a case for this periodic report updating of "The Bottom 10 List" for either to be #1.
The SCPR thinks that Judge Elum has been "a loose canon" for quite of few years but nobody figured this out until he finally ran afoul of Ohio's Disciplinary Counsel in October, 2012. (LINK to Ohio Supreme Court decision, The Report urges readers to take in the opinion which is only some 10 pages long, double spaced)
Now there is a second disciplinary complaint pending against Elum, (LINK to SCPR blog going into a detailed analysis of the complaint)
The differences between Elum and the SCPR started in March, 2010.
For a full appreciation of how "over-the-top" Elum got, readers really ought to go back and read The Report's blog of March 16, 2010 (LINK).
Recently, prominent Stark County-based criminal defense attorney Jeff Jakmides (filed as a write-in Republican candidate to run against Democrat prosecutor John Ferrero in November) wrote a glowing letter to the editor of The Canton Repository/Massillon Independent. (LINK)
The Report refers to Jakmides letter for two reasons.
First, there is no doubt about it, there is a good side to Elum.
But the SCPR thinks he has no business whatsoever being a judge because he has repeatedly demonstrated that he lacks judicial temperament.
Though Jakmides said it in a jesting context, he - as far as the SCPR is concerned - hit the nail on the head in saying that Elum ought to be wearing a frock rather than a judicial robe.
It is curious that Jakmides slides right over Elum's ethical problems as a judge but holds Park's feet to the fire.
Nothing like consistency, no?
One more thing: Does Jakmides as an attorney appear before Elum?
#2 OR #1 WORST STARK COUNTY ELECTED OFFICIAL
Second, Jakmides praising Elum is a segue into a discussion of Stark County Probate Court judge Dixie Park who in the opinion of The Report - as a judge - is "nip and tuck" competitive to Elum as being Stark County's worst elected official.
For Jakmides who had a client who was unconstitutionally jailed by Park has quite a different take on Park.
Understandable, of course.
However, there are undoubtedly those who, like Jakmides re: Elum, think "the world of Park at a personal level.
For anyone to think well of either as a judge is beyond understanding!
Unfortunately, there are those judges who think that putting on a robe makes them "God Almighty!
Stark County has to misfortune to have two such judges.
Park like Elum is a repeat offender on poor judiciary conduct, to wit: (LINK)
And the SCPR thinks she currently is on another bad trip in terms of poor judicial judgment.
Besides Jakmides, another Park detractor is Stark County civic activist and attorney Craig T. Conley.
Let's be clear about it. The SCPR thinks that Conley does have "axes to grind" with Park in the manner which she has handled more than one case that he is legal counsel on.
However, The Report thinks that they are "understandable and justifiable" exceptions to the arbitrary, capricious and unfair way yours truly believes he has treated his clients in getting at Conley because of his zealous "don't worry about offending the judge" advocacy for his clients.
It is obvious to the SCPR that Judge Park does not personally like Craig T. Conley.
And she is not alone. Being the firebrand that he is, there are a number of Stark County public officials who do not cotton to Conley's personality. Call Judge Frank Forchione and ask him what he thinks of Conley (hint: LINK).
Notwithstanding his abrasiveness and directness, Conley is a valuable to the Stark County public resources in the quest to keep elected public officials (especially judges) accountable.
There are many Stark County attorneys and perhaps even a few of her judicial peers who have a dim view of Park on her judgeship qualities.
But, of course, they do not have the courage of a Craig T. Conley.
The Report has looked over the latest series papers filed in the case "In re: Kathleen Conley Testamentary Trust," (case number 195704) to wit:
- LINK #1 - "alleged" ex parte filing of exceptions to account,
- LINK #2 - Craig T. Conley's Motion to Strike,
- SCPR Note: In the motion, Conley also alleges that James Conley's filing in unethical in both context of his filing it and Park accepting it)
Apparently, there is a family fight going on in the cited case.
Park's problem it seems is that she is acting on a ex parte pleading submitted to her by one James M. Conley, an attorney and a relative of Craig's and a mediator in the Massillon Municipal Court, and as such, reports to Judge Elum as one of two judges he is accountable to. (James Conley recently wrote a letter to the editor complimentary of Elum but had no disclaimer attached to it, hmm? [LINK])
How ironic this is given the subject matter of this blog, no?
So Conley filed a motion to strike on the basis that:
- He, Craig Conley, as attorney for the trustee (a relative of Craig and James Conley) was not served with the document by James Conley and therefore the pleading was one that he only happened upon by happenstance,
How unfair is that?
For a judge to act on a document that a party to the case only accidentally became privy to.
Look at this copy of an order issued by Park that refers to Conley's motion to strike.
Does this order deal with the motion to strike in terms of citing a basis in law for denying the motion?
Apparently, the judge thinks that running through a chronology of pleadings filed in the case, she effectively as a matter of law deals with the motion.
The Report thinks that In re: Conley is indicative of the all too many times that Judge Park ignores the law and does what she will do even if it means she gets reversed by higher courts of Ohio.
For the few times that cases are appealed and get reversed, one must ask: how many rulings by Park are not grounded in law but rather in her arbitrary, capricious and therefore unreasonable discretion as a judge?
Readers should now be able to clearly see how the SCPR has comes to be "on the horns of a dilemma."
Between Elum and Park, who is Stark County's absolutely worst elected official on this 28th day of January, 2016?
The Report says to readers: "pick-em!"
This is truly a "six of one; half-a-dozen" conundrum!!!