Friday, February 8, 2013


UPDATE:  10:00 AM




Is Ross Rhodes eating his words today?

Conley:  correctly identifies his online detractor?

The Repository's "double standard!"

Judge Forchione's temperament? 

Conley has a motive? LINK 

Email from SCPR to Stark County clerk of courts Nancy Reinbold

>>> Martin Olson <> 2/8/2013 9:12 AM >>>
Clerk Reinbold,

What do you plan to do with the $5,000 returned by the agent for the Sandy Hook Support Fund in response to Judge Forchione's request?

Do you have any indication [that Judge Forchione] is going to (or, perhaps, already has) amended his original order to empower/direct you as clerk to place the money in the Stark County general fund.


Response from Clerk Reinbold:

It will be held on deposit on the Studer case until an order is signed and filed by Judge Forchione directing distribution.
Nancy S. Reinbold
Stark County Clerk of Courts
110 Central Plaza North Ste 160
Canton, OH 44702
(330) 451-7622


First,  Stark County chief civil prosecutor Ross Rhodes said the judge had absolute immunity when there was speculation in the media that civic activist and local attorney Craig T. Conley would be filing a lawsuit on behalf of Thomas Marcelli seeking to compel Stark County Court of Common Pleas judge Frank Forchione to see to it that a $5,000 fine he ordered convicted criminal defendant Scott D. Studer to pay for the Sandy Hook shooting victims was repaid to the Stark County treasury and into the county general fund.

Secondly, in what the SCPR took as an implied intimidation to Conley proceeding with the lawsuit was Rhodes' statement to the effect that if Conley lost the case, he might be looking at paying costs of the action out of his (Conley's) own pocket.

The suit in declaratory judgment (LINK to SCPR blog providing more details of underlying facts of case) was filed on February 1st in the Stark County Court of Common Pleas.  And wouldn't you know it, guess who gets assigned the case by the court's lottery system of assigning cases?

Of course, who else, in a case of super-irony:  Judge Forchione.

Thirdly, after the suit was filed Rhodes said "[i]t was a complete waste of time."

Obviously, if the case continues on, the judge will be recusing himself as will the entire panel of Stark County judges.

Conley tells the SCPR that his/his client's intention was for the $5,000 to come out of the judge's pocket.  Moreover, he says for the judge to deprive the victims of the money already paid to the Sandy Hook Support Fund was disgraceful.

So when news broke last night (LINK) that the agent for the Sandy Hook Support Fund had returned the $5,000 at Judge Forchione's request, one would think that Conley would pack up the lawsuit as being moot and he and his client go away.

For any of us thinking that is not to know Craig T. Conley.

Conley is a guy who pretty much says what he means and means what he says.

His client's (under the counsel of Conley) primary reason for filing the suit in the first place was because of his all consuming passion to "the rule of law" in American jurisprudence.

And Conley is doing all of this pro bono (without charge - for the public good).

He has advanced $300 in filing fees to file the case which he may or may not recover as part of the resolution of the case.

And in filing the case, Conley has incurred the ire of at least a couple of Stark County attorneys (one of whom Conley says has a matter pending before Forchione and the other of which has received some four appointments to cases over the last year or so at the hand of Judge Forchione) and members of the general public.

To boot, Conley believes that Stark County Democratic Party chairman Randy Gonzalez chimed in on the comments section of The Repository in support of Judge Forchione under the screenname "warmsunshine."

The Report has asked Gonzalez whether or not Conley's suspicion was well founded.

Gonzalez answered with an emphatic NO!

Conley says that his suspicion is grounded in his belief that information shared in the comment was information that it is likely is uniquely ready at hand to Gonzalez.  Moreover, he points out that as an official in the Canton Municipal clerk of courts office, he thinks Gonzalez would have developed a government interaction relationship with Forchione as a consequence being a prosecutor in the Canton law department.

Conley indicates to The Report that he has put his mouth where his suspicion is as a testament to his certainty of the identity of the anonymous commenter.  He compiled a packet of information on the Judge's order and sent it to Gonzalez without comment.

Finally, Conley tells the SCPR that as far as he can determine, warmsunshine has not commented on the Forchione fine situation or any other Repository story since he transmitted the packet to Gonzalez.

Could be a mere co-incidence, no?

But Conely does not think so.

The Report repeats, that notwithstanding Conley's suspicion, Gonzalez has denied to the SCPR that Conley's speculation is true.

The main point of the foregoing discursive is to share with SCPR readers that folks like Conley are brought under enormous pressure by friends of those he holds to public account to back off.

And for a guy like Ross Rhodes to suggest that Conley's work "... is a complete waste of time" is outrageous for a person who is obligated to cherish the rule of law.

Lawyers 101 in law school is very clear in instruction that the way lawyers determine what the rules of law are, when disagreed upon, is through litigation.

Rhodes undoubtedly knows such to be the case and for him to suggest that Marcelli through Conley accessing the courts is "a waste" is the equivalent of placing himself in a three-in-one role of being jury, judge and executioner.  Pretty arrogant, no?

Nonetheless, Conley having an underlying motivation for participating in the filing the lawsuit merits examination.  This the SCPR has done.  Here is a LINK to that blog.

Beyond Rhodes, there is the conduct of The Repository editorial board in its processing letters to the editors on the Forchione fine issue.

Conley alleges (and has provided substantiation to the satisfaction of The Report) that two attorney letter to editor writers have connections with Judge Forchione.

One, Conley says, has gotten case appointments from the judge.  The other has a case pending before Forchione.

For Gayle Beck (the chief) and her fellow editorial editors to allow those who have a connection to get "letters to the editors" published without the editors having vetted the writers on whether or not they may have a motivation to write the letters they write is astounding.  Had she checked them out and detected Conley's allegations, one would think that she would certainly had inserted an editorial board disclaimer.

For some "letter to the editor" writers, Repository instituted vetting hurdles they have to overcome seem beyond reasonable.  For others, it appears the bar is very low, if not non-existent.

In a one-newspaper-town and in a county which has one-countywide-newspaper; double standarding is unacceptable. 

To The Report, the leadership at The Repository have irresponsibly (from an editorial standpoint) handled their monopoly of Stark County sited media.

The SCPR does not begrudge those with ulterior motives getting their letters published, but the editor, if they are doing proper editorial board journalism, should ensure that letters include disclaimers detailing connections between the writer and the subjects so that readers can make an informed judgment as to how much credibility those writers should be accorded.

So shame on The Repository editorial board for not doing its due diligence!

As it turns out, the Stark County's general fund is ultimately going to get the $5,000 courtesy of Conley and his client Marcelli at no cost to the taxpayers.

A waste, Prosecutor Rhodes?

Judge Forchione's given reason for retrieving the $5,000 is so that the Marcelli/Conley litigation will fade away for mootness thereby saving Stark's taxpayers the expense of protracted litigation.

For Conley, this is not good enough.

He is insisting that the judge correct his order so as to be in compliance with ORC 2949.11 and thereby, at least impliedly, admit that he did not have the legal authority to do what he did in ordering Studer to monetarily assist the victims of Sandy Hook.

In a letter to Prosecutor John Ferrero, Conley lays you his requirements to resolve the declaratory judgment action:

Conley has filed an amended complaint so as to include developments whereby Forchione asked for and received (via the clerk of courts office) the Sandy Hook money back.

Conley says that it is his intent to, by legal redress, compel Judge Forchione to restructure the order so as to put Stark County Clerk of Courts Nancy Reinbold in a plausible legal position to deposit the $5,000 with the Stark County treasury on it way into the county general fund.

While he thinks such will not totally cure the problems with the order, he said that he and his client will not stand in the way of the matter coming to an end if the order is restructured.

At the end of this blog, the SCPR has placed a copy of those paragraphs of the amended complaint wherein Conley endeavors to give life beyond the mere fact that Judge Forchione recovered the money from the folks of Newtown, Connecticut.

For Prosecutor Ross Rhodes, he should issue a press release to effect that he misspoke when to termed the complaint as being "a waste of time," which by definition is not accurate witness the recall of the $5,000 by Judge Forchione owing to the Marcelli/Conley complaint being filed.

For The Repository Editorial Board, they should start applying the same vetting standard to all letters to the editor that appears in the pages of The Rep.

For Judge Forchione, he should reconstruct his order to be in full compliance with the provisions of ORC 2949.11 in such as fashion that Clerk Reinbold is on solid footing in terms of forwarding the $5,000 to the Stark treasury or deposit in the Stark County general fund.

Moreover, it would be helpful for Judge Forchione (who is held in high esteem by many Stark Countians) to admit point-blank that he overstepped his legal bounds.

But will his general disposition, his demeanor, his temperament allow him allow to do so?

Let's all hope that the Forlchione assessment of one highly placed Stark County elected official to the SCRP is on the mark (i.e. that Judge Forchione is a classy guy) and that Conley's is off-the-mark.

For therein lies a quick solution to what Craig Conley is now calling Forchionegate a la his 2009 - 2011 labeling  of Stark County treasury problems as being Zeiglergate.

Forchione's handling of this matter should go a long way towards answering the question of whether or not he gets re-elected when the next comes on the ballot.

Here is the core of the amended complaint:

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