Thursday, November 21, 2013




Of course, November 5, 2013 was a significant date in that it was general election day.

For the likes of Richard Hart of Canton; Sarita Cunningham-Hedderly, and Ed Lewis, IV of Massillon; John Rinaldi of Canton and, moreover, the Canton Parks levy "a jewel of a day" because election results made winners of them all.

November 5, 2013 could turn out to have been a key date for Judge Frank Forchione of the Stark County Court of Common Pleas.

At about high-noon, Ohio's Fifth District of Appeals concluded oral arguments in the case of Ohio v. Forchione.

Judges Baldwin, Farmer and Wise listened attentively as Conley (for Demis: the complainant) and the state of Ohio legal representative Prosecutor Craig Morgan of the Akron prosecutor's office (subbing for the Canton prosecutor's out of conflict-in-interest concerns) made their arguments.


The Stark County Political Report started its tracking of the Conley/Forchione saga on January 25, 2013 when Conley demanded Stark County prosecutor John Ferrero file suit against Judge Forchione (Stark County Court of Common Pleas) for having redirected fine money assessed in a criminal case to a Massachusetts charity and to recover same to the Stark County general fund.

The Stark County Political Report continued its tracking of the Conley/Fochione story with a January 29, 2013 blog.

Some folks had raised the spectre that Conley was not so much concerned about "the rule of law" as he was to exact revenge of Forchione because Forchione would not initially withdraw from a case that Conley had before him and which Conley lost before the Ohio Supreme Court to compel Forchione's recusal.

Eventually, Forchione did withdraw at his own initiative and, interestingly enough, Conley settled on the merits in his favor and with considerable cash in his pocket.

So that why the SCPR did the "sour grapes" blog.

Ferrero refused Conley's demand and "a client" found Conley and Conley filed a lawsuit in mandamus against Forchione.

Of course, those who regularly follow the SCPR you need not click on the links above, but it might not be a bad idea just as a refresher on how things got started.

In the end, with Conley's filing of a lawsuit, the SCPR believes Conley's lawsuit (ultimately dismissed by Conley himself [at his client's direction, of course]) when his client Tom Marcelli was satisfied that Forchione had corrected what the law of Ohio does not allow a judge to do which is to say redirect fine money to a charitable purpose.

The motivation of the suit, remember, Conley said was to compel Judge Forchione to be what everybody expects of a judge that is "be a 'rule of law' judge."

For his efforts, Conley was rewarded with having a disciplinary action filed against him by an "anonymous" complainer for Conley having accused Judge Forchione for "grandstanding" in ordering the diversion of the fine to the charity, which complaint Conley ended up winning.

But still the matter was not over.

On February 28, 2013 up stepped a Franklin County resident; namely, Louis Demis (who is thought to once have lived in Navarre) who filed an affidavit authorized by Ohio Revised Code sections 2935.09 and 2935.10 wherein he claimed that in doing the diversion of the fine money that there was "probable cause" to think that Forchione had committed a crime of "theft in office."

Well, guess who got into that fray as legal counsel for Demis?

Of course, local attorney and frequent civic activist Craig T. Conley.

On a pro bono (for the public good) basis, when requested, he agreed to take on representing Demis.

The Canton law department deferred taking the matter on because of obvious "conflict-in-interest" questions as did the entire bench of the Canton Municipal Court.

A retired Barberton Municipal Court judge (Michael McNulty) received the assignment to hear the case in Canton.

Well, on April 23rd, about an hour and one-half after the hearing McNulty ruled against Demis.

It was kind of a bizarre hearing in that the prosecutor representing Ohio (on the Demis affidavit) actually argued against finding "probable cause."  Had it not been for Conley, there would have been no argument for "probable cause."

So "end of the matter," no?

Of course, not!

While it was up to Mr. Demis whether or not to call it quits, if Demis was game to keep the heat on Judge Forchione, you have to believe that Conley was going to be up to it.

And so on May 15th an appeal of McNulty's adverse finding to Demis on his affidavit was at Demis' request filed by Conley.


And that brings to where we are on today's blog.

On election day, November 5, 2013, the 5th District Court of Appeals heard the appeal.

The SCPR is highly skeptical that the appellate court will reverse Judge McNulty but one has to admire Craig T. Conley's willingness to "put his money where his mouth is" in representing Demis "free of charge" in the important cause of advocating for what he thinks is for the maintenance of "the rule of law."

For anyone who has not seen an appellate argument, the Conley/Morgan face-off in the 5th District Court of Appeals is a classic.

Here is the full 5th District Court of Appeals video.

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