Monday, January 29, 2018


UPDATED:  01/30/2018

Before getting into today's blog, a scene from the back porch of our our annual (two months or so) winter vacation on the southeastern coast of Oahu, Hawaii.

Now, today's blog.

Who is the most durable of the two:  local attorney and dogged civic activist Craig T. Conley or Stark County Court of Common Pleas Court—Probate Division—judge Dixie Park?

Of the blogs The Stark County Political Report has been writing of late, the Conley/Park battle is by far the most read.

The Conley/Park face off is not up to the level of what has been called some as being "Zeiglergate" (2009-2011), Minerva's Phil Davison "over-the-top" Republicanism (September, 2010), George T. Maier's quest to become Stark County sheriff in the face of considerable some high ranking Stark County officialdom opposition (2012-2014) and a few others, but Conley/Park promises to perhaps one day exceed any of the foregoing.

Well, probably not Davison inasmuch as the video hits on his performance were up in the several million.  A snippet of the "exclusive" SCPR captured video even made a cameo in a Superbowl ad.

It appears to the SCPR that Conley's primary mission in what remains of his legal career is to live to see the day that Dixie Park is no longer serving as Stark County Probate Court judge.

Given what a number of lawyers think is a Ohio Supreme Court having a different standard of acceptable professional conduct for judges as contrasted to a much more exacting one for lawyers, there is a likelihood that he will never see the high court jurists weigh-in a draconian way on Judge Park.

All one has to do is look at the "love-taps" the Supremes administered to Massillon Municipal Court judge Eddie Elum (not once, but two times) and Cleveland Municipal Court judge Angela Stokes to get graphic evidence of the difference.

Here are a couple of links on Elum for SCPR readers to refresh their memories:
And it just wasn't 2016 and 2012 that Elum let a lack of ethics get the best of him.  In March, 2010 (LINK to blog on the 2010 incident) Elum attacked The Report for its reporting/opinionating on his tiff with former Massillon police chief Williams, to wit:

Elum's very own words show that he lacks the temperament to be a judge.  It goes without saying that had this writer of the SCPR appeared in Elum's court as an attorney post-March-2010 statement the judge that he would have had to recuse himself.

Elum told the SCPR in March, 2010 that this blog "had gone over the line" and he was going to file a ethics complaint with the Ohio Supreme Court on a journalist over whom the court has no jurisdiction in exercising First Amendment rights in the sense of ethics enforcement.

An ethics complaint could have been filed against Elum by the SCPR but was not done because to do so may have been taken by some as being an indication that The Report in blogging was dealing lawyer to judge with Elum.

Such is simply not the case.  The blogs were journalism doing what media is supposed to do in holding an elected official accountable for his actions.

The fuss between Elum and Williams was clearly a public matter that could not be and was not ignored by the media

When judges do things that have an adverse effect (thought by some to be grounded in illegal conduct) on the legal rights of individual Stark Countians, then it is a journalistic obligation for media to pick up on such and report and opinionate on same so that the general public is put on notice.

Elum never filed that complaint but has had to deal with the two aforementioned matters filed against him which both found that he had violated ethical standards in effect for judges.

A relatively rare event in Ohio jurisprudence.

Interesting, no?

The SCPR thinks that the latter was a case of Judge Elum trying the play "the bully" as he seemingly has a propensity to do when someone displeases him.

For the times he has been called for his unprofessional conduct, how many are out there which did not result in ethical complaints being filed against him?

We all understand how powerful judges are.  But no person, even as President Trump will soon find out, is above the "rule of law."

Before writing the "nasty" about the SCPR, Elum had checked his docket to find cases(s) in which the SCPR has appeared before him.  Obviously, this was an attempt to find a case of an adverse finding to The Report's interest and thereby explain a possible motivation (other than doing what a journalist ought to be doing) for blogging on the Williams matter.

But he found nothing.  You know why?  Because there was nothing.  Apparently, Judge Elum is of a mind that everybody who does something that displeases him has a personal ulterior motive.

No, Judge Elum, some of us are beyond the likes and dislikes of individual officialdom personalities and actually are focused on the public well being and not on some personal axe to grind.

It is more than a little concerning that Elum apparently sees the public as me against them especially when one does not comport with Elum's view of the way life ought to be.

And the same situation holds for Judge Park.

Although the SCPR in a individual lawyer capacity has while still an active practicing attorney appeared before Judge Park, she never meted out any of the "complained of" treatment that Conley and others have experienced at Park's hand.

However, the SCPR does not have to personally experience what The Report thinks is "abusive use of official power" treatment to weigh-in journalistically to call same to the public's attention.

In not dealing effectively with the likes of Elum and Park, the SCPR thinks the Supremes are in effect showing that they are highly deficient in policing their own ranks and thereby undermine public confidence in the integrity of the judicial branch of Ohio government.

While not nearly as intense as Conley's, the SCPR agrees with Conley that Park does not belong on the Stark County bench mostly on account of her documented denial of Due Process of Law to a number of unfortunate Stark Countians who have appeared before her.

One very, very, very "unfortunate" Stark Countian spent better than a week in the Stark County Jail as a consequence of being on the wrong end of Judge Park not understanding and/or applying the Due Process of Law clauses of the United States of America and Ohio constitutions.

Moreover, it has been documented that Judge Park has had a difficult time treating her employees with dignity and respect.  (see linked blogs listed below)

One has to wonder how judge/employee relationships are going with current court employees?

Is this judge maturing one iota is the question?

It appears that Park has her "favorites" list and a "disfavored" list of attorneys appearing before her in not her "private" court but a public court established under Ohio law and funded by Ohio/Stark County taxpayers.

Without "a shadow of doubt," the SCPR thinks Craig T. Conley heads of the list of "disfavored" attorneys.

For Conley's fellow attorneys of the Stark County Bar Association (as contrasted to the Stokes matter and the Cleveland/Cuyahoga County attorney groups), Stark County's other judges and judges serving at higher levels of Ohio jurisprudence to sit back and do nothing to stop the arbitrary ways of Judge Park is hard to understand.

And, of course, Stark County's only countywide newspaper leadership seems to have a case of lockjaw too.

For a refresher, here is a list of blogs that the SCPR has done on Judge Park which readers should revisit in order to get a chapter and verse accounting on the grief Park has brought to Stark County's justice system which Stark Countians support with a specially allocated 1/2 cent Justice System Sales Tax, which, of course, Park's court participates in.
In the latest round of the Conley/Park antagonism, Conley has filed a scathing reply to Judge Park's response to an Affidavit of Disqualification with an agency of the Ohio Supreme Court.

In quite a number of ways Conley accuses Judge Park of lying without actually using the "L" word.

Here is a copy of that reply:  (excerpts of which are in the lead graphic to this blog)

Conley has filed yet another Affidavit of Disqualification with the Ohio Supreme Court on January 25, 2018 which is pretty much the same as being reported on in this particular blog.

Here is a copy of it:

The SCPR is on record in prior blogs in saying that Judge Park needs to resign.

Notwithstanding all the foregoing, there remains an opportunity for Park to reconsider her ways and making amends (like Scrooge of Dickens' A Christmas Carol) with victims of her capriciousness past and "current" in the likes of Conley.

The Report's take on Conley, for instance, is that what he perceives to be a genuine Park overture of "come let us reason together" could result in a "truce" if not a cessation of belligerence between to the two of them.

At this point however the SCPR thinks it would take a Park initiative to calm things down.

Some may think that the SCPR is the captive of Craig Conley in airing his personal grievances against Park.

Different from others, The Report holds himself to the same standard as is applied to subjects of this blog.

Accordingly, criticism and differing with the SCPR is reflected upon for any merit that be contained therein.

Regular readers of the SCPR know that Martin Olson is about as independent of Stark's personalities of politics and political party interests and other biases as most human beings or capable of achieving.

For the record, The Report ignores a considerable part of Conley entreaties because of his obvious personal dislike of Park.

Moreover, the SCPR objective is not limited to a Conley vindication but rather the many (e.g. probate court litigants, employees, and the selective "to be punished attorney") who have suffered under the Park propensity to operate on "whim" rather than the "rule of law" and a "like/dislike" standing of personal relationships.

Ultimately, all the Park mistreatments undermine the Stark County public's confidence in the fundamental fairness of the administration of justice in the Stark County probate court.

And if she doesn't change her way, and soon; the legal powers that be in Stark County and with the Ohio Supreme Court need to do an investigation of Judge Park's conduct and make a determination as to whether or not she is fit hold a judgeship.

Either way, an investigation, if conducted, needs to detail in specificity why Park should or should not remain as a judge.

For only in policing its own ranks fairly, fully and on the same standard as it does with lawyers will the Ohio Supreme Court be able to hold their collective heads up high as exemplars implementing  "the rule of law" as being their ultimate calling.

The Conley/Park saga in its essence is not about either of them, it is about whether or not the Ohio Supreme Court has the willing to apply the "rule of law" in accordance with constitutional standards "equally" to all Ohioans.

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