Tuesday, January 29, 2013


Several days ago the SCPR published a blog (LINK) about civic activist and local attorney Craig T. Conley demand to Stark County prosecutor John Ferrero that he initiate a legal action against Stark County Court of Common Pleas judge Frank Forchione to recover to the Stark County treasury the sum of $5,000 ordered paid by one Scott Studer (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)) for the benefit of the shooting victims of the Sandy Hook, Connecticut.

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 copies of Judge Forchione's order, letter of transmittal to the Sandy Hook School Support Fund.

A consequence of Conley initiative is that folks are weighing in pro and con on the matter in the comments section of the Repository article:   Attorney challenges judge’s decision to send $5,000 fine to Newtown, Matt Rink, January 23, 2013.

One particular commenter  (going under the screen name warmsunshine) stands out in that he seems to have information that is unique to his prior involvement with Conley and perhaps even Judged Forchione.

The comments:  
Talk about the pot calling the kettle black Conley never missed a chance to get his name in the paper. This is just another opportunity for HIM to grandstand. This is the same attorney who tried to stop government funds going to help build a YMCA and now he is offended money is going to families of very young children who were slaughtered. His client is on here daily complaining about everything and never saw good thing in any Government at any level. Your thoughts and heart were in the right place Judge. 
TMM he did file to run for Commissioner and chickened out. He also had a case infront [sic] of this Judge that went to the Supreme court and that did not go his way. Now he is putting himself in a position that he never has to go infront [sic] of him again and gets free press out of it too. He is using you to promote himself. Did you go to him or did he come to you?  (emphasis added)
Conley tells the SCPR that he is pretty certain he knows who warmsunshine is.  The suspect is a public official and well known Stark County political figure who likely (according to Conley) has a rich association with Judge Forchione. 

The Report did check with the named individual who denies he merits Conley's suspicion.  

It is fair enough for those who unhappy with a person such as Conley to question his motivation for acting.

Conley got sued for malpractice (Estate of Cletus P. McCauley et al vs. Craig T. Conley, et al (Stark County, 2011 CV 02325).in 2011 in the Stark County Court of Common Pleas and Judge Forchione was assigned by the court's random selection process to hear the case (which is still in progress).

Because he had a difficult experience (from his perspective) with Judge Forchione in a case encaptioned Public Salt Company v. Diane Varavvyas, (Stark County, 2010 CV 01992), Conley elected to file on November 14, 2011 an Affidavit of Disqualification in the Ohio Supreme Court against the judge asking that he be disqualified from hearing the McCauley case.

And Judge Forchione filed a response which, of course, was at odds with Conley's account.

The Supreme Court refused to disqualify Forchione on December 30, 2011. (LINK to the decision)

Interestingly enough, Forchione decided to recuse himself 9-1/2 months later.

Conley says the recusal puts the matter to rest and shows that he does not have any motivation from the disqualification affair for pursuing the payment of the $5,000 Studer payment to the Stark County treasury.

He further says that even if he had a motive, even a bad motive, which, of course, he denies that he has; such is no answer for Judge Forchione for doing that which he has no judicial authority to do.

Only Craig T. Conley knows for sure in his heart of hearts whether or not he has an ulterior motive in acting on the Studer case fine sentencing matter.

He goes on to say:  "what difference does his motivation or lack of motivation make one way or the other?"

And doesn't he have a point?

We have all heard the saying that "the road to Hell in paved with good intentions."

The converse of that is many times the truth comes from people with ulterior motives.

Conley is not the only person in this mix whose motives could be questioned.

As Conley tells it, warmsunshine may have a motive.

If he is who Conley thinks he is,  Conley asserts that was a member of the YMCA Board of Directors and a member of Jackson Township officialdom when Conley (2004) filed a federal lawsuit against the Jackson trustees.  (LINK)

According to the court:
The gravamen of Plaintiff's seven count Complaint is that Defendants' donations of money and office space and promises to make further donations [$1 million] to the Jackson Township Young Men's Christian Association violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.
Well, Conley lost the case.

So applying Conley's own standard (i.e. the matter is over and done with), with the alleged motivated being on the winning side nonetheless; doesn't the motivation argument lose its sting?

But in the SCPR's way of thinking, motivations are something to be considered in trying to figure out why people do things and say things.

And it appears likely to The Report that both Conley and warmsunshine are at least tinged with motive. 

Conley says he suspects that the information about his effort to disqualify Judge Forchione may have come from the judge himself because:
  • it would be too much to expect that an unconnected person would be delving into case files just as a matter of general curiosity to have spied his [Conley's] affidavit, and 
  • the person he suspects has historically had work proximate contact with Forchione
The SCPR thinks that Conley might be underestimating the inclination of a non-Judge Forchione connected person (in terms of being put up to it by the judge) to have nosed around on his cases on CJIS (Criminal Justice Information System) for case names with the name Conley attached to them looking for something that the researcher might deem to be negative on him about.

In any event, it would be fair game for Judge Forchione or any person willing to identify themselves with their real name to bring up the affidavit as possibly being a motivation for having made an issue of the judge's Sandy Hook order.

As it is fair game for Conley to turn tables on warmsunshine.

A key difference here is Conley is willing to be named in making his accusation and warmsunshine is not.  He takes the coward's way:  anonymity.

Cowardice is not a characteristic of one of the SCPR's favorite online Repository front and center commenters; namely,  Don Cirelli.

Here is how he weighed-in on the matter:
I've always considered Frank Forchione to be a straight shooter and a stand-up guy. I have a different opinion about Craig Conley. But having said that, I think Forchione erred in giving this fine to charity, regardless of who received it. Local governments all over this country are struggling to stay afloat, including Stark County. In such times, government officials have no business giving money taxpayers money to charities. That fine belongs to the taxpayers of Stark County. It belongs in the General Fund, period.
"l have a different opinion about Craig Conley," Cirelli says.

Yours truly disagrees with Cirelli on his opinion of Conley and his being a "straight shooter and a stand up guy."

Fair enough.  We're both entitled to our opinions

Cireilli goes on to say:

"I think Forchione erred in giving this fine to charity, regardless of who received it. Local governments all over this country are struggling to stay afloat, including Stark County. In such times, government officials have no business giving money taxpayers money to charities. That fine belongs to the taxpayers of Stark County. It belongs in the General Fund, period."

Amen! Don. 

Most importantly, he uses his name.

Another significant difference between warmsunshine and Conley is that Conley is trying to achieve something with his action for the taxpayers of Stark County and, of course, for the rule of law.

Warmsunshine doesn't appear to have any public purpose with his comments.  His seeming goal is to discredit Conley.

An exercise of:   "When you don't have an answer to the message, attack the messenger?" 

To the SCPR, while motivation is a factor to be noted, in the final analysis the measurement should be whether or not an action/statement has a predominant purpose of serving the public good.

And if, as suggested by Conley, Judge Forchione is implicated with warmsunshine's effort, such is not a good thing.

Forchione has every right in the world to come out publicly against Conley as he did before the Supreme Court in McCauley.

At the end of the day, the SCPR is in favor of speakers and doers who have a public purpose to the speaking and doing and are willing to identify themselves.

Call it "sour grapes," if you will.

But it is through the Conleys of the world that the public figures out whether a saying/doing is a good thing or a bad thing or maybe even beyond that:  "the lawful thing!"

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