Friday, March 29, 2013


UPDATED:  10:00 AM

Local attorney and civic activist Craig T. Conley has demonstrated once again that he is a man of "a cast iron stomach."

He learned yesterday that the Ohio State Bar Association Legal Ethics and Professional Conduct Committee found that he had not violated ethics rules (as alleged in an "anonymous" a January 28th filed complaint) in charging (in representing Bethlehem Township resident Tom Marcelli) that Stark County Court of Common Pleas judge Frank Forchione had engaged in grandstanding in his sentencing order of a former Jackson School District 9th grade basketball coach Scott Studer.

Studer was convicted (after pleading guilty in multiple counts Illegal Use of a Minor in a Nudity-Oriented Material or Performance [R.C. 21907.323(A)(1)](F2)) to 15 years in prison and ordered to pay a $5,000 fine for the benefit of the shooting victims of the Sandy Hook, Connecticut.

While Conley understandably did not enjoy having the complaint filed and says that even if unfounded as this one was determined to be, such cannot be a good thing for one's practice of law.

However, he was willing to risk that a complaint would be filed for the greater community good - that is to say - a confirmation that the "rule of law" reigns supreme in Ohio.

Conley's allegation of Forchione's grandstanding?

Here it is from a prior blog of the Stark County Political Report, according to a local media account of Conley's assessment of Forchione's order, to wit:
"This was just grandstanding," Conley said.  "This is Jeeze, 'I can get my name in the paper.'  The courtroom is not a place for a popularity contest."
The Stark County Political Report has published a number of blogs on the matter that readers will want to review to grasp the full drama of the ensuring attack on Conley for grandstanding in his own right which prompted the complaint cited above.
 The letter from the Ohio State Bar Association exonerating Conley:

In a statement issued by Conley late yesterday, he said, in part:

"While I am, of course, pleased that the unfounded anonymous grievance has been dismissed, I am ever more pleased that the rule of law under which our justice system operates has, as evinced by the post-lawsuit [i.e. the declaratory judgment action:  Marcelli v. Forchione] return of Studer's $5,000 to Stark County [the county general fund], been vindicated."

So is this the end of the matter?

Not really.

Conley tells the SCPR that he has been working on finding someone to run against Forchione in November, 2014 when he comes up for re-election.

And, he says, he plans to be fully engaged in the effort to unseat Forchione.

Conley tells The Report he believes that Forchione demonstrated in his unlawful order in the Studer case that he is not sufficiently adhered to the "rule of law" as to merit re-election.

Normally, judicial campaigns are like "watching paint dry" and the likelihood of an incumbent judge losing is somewhere between "slim and none and 'slim' has just left town."

However,  if Conley carries through (which the SCPR thinks he will), Forchione's re-election bid could be a political sight to behold.

In the opinion of the SCPR, the Stark County public has a lot to be appreciative of about Craig T. Conley.

To cite just of few of his contributions he has made to good government in Stark County in recent years:
  • He led the effort to repeal the "imposition" of the-then Commissioner Bosley, Harmon and Vignos (December, 2008) 0.5% county sales tax,
  • He pushed Stark County Prosecutor John Ferrero into a "earlier than he was disposed to do" pursuit of a recovery of former Stark County Treasurer Gary Zeigler of monies lost, as provided for in Ohio statutory law, (i.e. the Vince Frustaci theft of upwards of $3 million, which Zeigler himself was not implicated in) during his administration of the county treasury, and, of course,
  • His pursuit of Judge Forchione on behalf of client Marcelli to ensure that the Studer fine money end up in the Stark County treasury and thereby effecting compliance with the "rule of law."
Which among the three does Conley think has been his most significant accomplishment?

"Not even close, Conley says, the  Forchione matter, without a doubt."

And the SCPR agrees with that assessment.

A fitting conclusion of this blog, yours truly believes is the open of the SCPR blog of February 20th, to wit:

Although the author of this blog is an attorney, the blog is written (as are all SCPR blogs) from the perspective of yours truly being a blogger who comments on politics and government (mostly Stark County-based) from a journalistic perspective and not as a lawyer.


On a scale of 1 to 10 with 10 being the highest, "the rule of law" has to be the highest order in a democracy.

Dr. Mark Cooray has written eloquently on this topic (LINK).

In part, he writes:

The rule of law is fundamental to the western democratic order. Aristotle said more than two thousand years ago, "The rule of law is better than that of any individual." Lord Chief Justice Coke quoting Bracton said in the case of Proclamations (1610) 77 ER 1352

"The King himself ought not to be subject to man, but subject to God and the law, because the law makes him King".

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