Thursday, February 20, 2014




Earlier this morning Balas-Bratton attorney Craig Conley wrote this letter to the Ohio secretary of state Jon Husted, to wit:

Dear Mr. Husted:

For the reasons set forth hereinbelow, it is respectfully suggested that you are legally obliged to "strike" and disregard (its lack of merit aside) the entirety of Attorney Okey's February 18, 2014 letter to you wherein he purports to represent Mr. St. John as a BOE Member.

Under O.R.C. 309.09(A), the Stark County Prosecuting Attorney, not Attorney Okey is statutory counsel for Mr. St. John in his official capacity as a BOE Member.

Indeed, that Code Subsection provides, in pertinent part, that "The prosecuting attorney shall be the legal advisor of the . . . board of elections, and all c0unty officers . . . [and] The prosecuting attorney shall prosecute and defend all suits and actions which any such officer, board . . . directs or to which it is a party . . . " (emphasis supplied)

There has been no O.R.C. 305.14(A) application for or appointment of "outside" legal counsel to represent BOE Member St. John in the Prosecuting Attorney's stead - which, of course, means that, as a matter of law the Stark County Prosecuting Attorney, at all times relevant, has been and remains BOE • Member St:. John's statutory counsel, not Attorney Okey.

Accordingly, it is  again respectfully  suggested that you are legally obliged to "strike" and disregard the entirety of Attorney Okey's aforesaid letter,


Craig T. Conley

CTC/rcps    cc:    Cynthia Balas-Bratton    
                             Stark County Board of Elections    
                             Stark County Prosecuting Attorney
                             Steven P. Okey, Esq. 
                             Thomas L. Rosenberg, Esq.
                              Michael R. Traven, Esq.

The SCPR provided a copy to Steve Okey with a request for his reaction, to wit:

On Feb 20, 2014, at 9:41 AM, "Martin Olson" <> wrote:

> Steve,
> Do you have a reaction to Conley having sent the attached letter to Mr. Husted?
> Specifically, do you contest Conley's assertion that you are not authorized to represent Mr. St. John?
> Thanks,
> Martin

Here is Steve's response:

Thu, Feb 20, 2014 at 10:04 AM

From:  Steve Okey

To:  Martin Olson


Thank you for your inquiry.

Mr. Conley's letter is a model of absurdity.  Although the prosecutor is statutory counsel, Mr. Ferrero has long since publicly announced his conflict of interest in the Maier matter. Further, Mr. St. John is entirely free to retain personal counsel at his discretion -- and thus far, at no cost to the taxpayers.



Sent from my iPhone


The SCPR "at best" has a "testy" relationship with Deametrious St. John.

Somewhat like The Report's connections with Stark County Democratic Party chairman Randy Gonzalez and Republican Stark County GOP chairman Jeff Matthews, state Representative Christina Hagan (Republican - Marlboro) and the Democrat Maier brothers (George and his familial and political mentor Johnnie A. Jr.).

These folks are a number Stark County officials who carry themselves with a "my way or the highway" attitude about themselves.

They avoid anyone who asks tough questions. No "meaningful" accountability to the Stark County public is abided by these people.

And, of course, the SCPR "leaves no stone uncovered" and they well know that.

All are "control" artists who are used to others not challenging their "received 'political' wisdom."

Of course, they can and do refuse to answer specific "probing" questions which is why - even though public figures paid with taxpayer dollars - by the likes of the SCPR.

They are more than willing to be talking with Stark County mainstream media types because they get "softballs" thrown to them.


In an earlier blog this week, I referenced a telephone message that St. John left on my voice mail Sunday evening.

This, despite his summarily rejecting my request for an "on camera" interview (readers can hear St. John doing the rejection on the tape of the Sherers' interview) which, of course, would have given him a full and complete opportunity to have made himself seen and heard thereby obviating the need to take "the coward's way out" and leaving a voice mail.

Monday morning, as I was preparing to cover the Stark County Board of Elections (BOE, Board), St. John was "at it again."

Yelling at The Report "from a distance" that the February 14th blog did not get the facts rights in that in language suggesting - perhaps - that he was not renewed as the Stark Dems as the Party's Stark BOE member because of the controversy surrounding whether or not he could do an unbiased decision on the Cynthia Balas-Bratton challenge to the BOE on George T. Maier's candidacy for Stark County sheriff.

The fact of the matter is that the SCPR was not citing facts but rather was offering an opinion-esque analysis.

To repeat, what  I did do was SPECULATE (BLOG LINK) (see that capitalized word Mr. St. John) that perhaps the St. John challenge that is currently underway - as his being too biased to function ethically as a "quasi-judicial" (a role he has on elections contest as a board member with the Stark BOE) - MAY have been an "not owned up to" factor by the Party brass in his not being renewed for another BOE term in office.

Does Deametrious St. John know the difference between assertions that something is factual as compared to conjecture about what may or may not be factual?

Apparently, not!


You do not have to be a lawyer to know that a judge (even if a "quasi-judge) whose public statements indicate he has pre-judged a case should as a matter of impeccable ethics be required to step aside from that case.

Most such persons step aside without being compelled to.

Despite his having made a number of statements to area media of his being convinced that George T. Maier is qualified (presumably he is referring to Ohio Revised Code Section 311.01) to be sheriff of Stark County, he has talked himself into believing that he has not pre-judged Cynthia Balas-Bratton's "protest" against Maier now before the BOE and he has refused to remove himself.

Here is what Balas-Bratton's attorney terms as St. John's "self-serving" affidavit his attorney has filed with the Ohio secretary of state:

(Note:  Somewhat reconfigured for blog formatting purposes)





Deametrious St John, after being duly sworn, states the following to be true:

1.  I am competent to testify to the matters stated herein, I make this Affidavit upon personal knowledge, information and belief

2.  I am a member of the Stark County Board of Elections, having been duly appointed by the Ohio Secretary of State.

3.  It is my understanding that Cynthia Balas-Bratton has fiJed a protest against the candidacy of George T. Maier to be on the Democratic primary ballot for the office of Stark County Sheriff on May 6,2014.

4.  I hold no personal bias for or against Cynthia Balas-Bralton, George T. Maier. or any other interested party to this matter, or their attorneys, nor do I hold any personal bias against the protest filed by Ms. Balas-Bratton.

5.  I hold no hostile feeling or spirit of ill-will or undue friendship or favoritism toward any of the interested parties to this matter or their attorneys.

6.  I have not formed an opinion or fixed anticipatory judgment regarding the merits of the protest filed by Cynthia Balas-Biatton. Indeed, the protest was filed only three days ago on  February 11, 2014. The protest and its associated documents are voluminous and must be fully and comprehensively reviewed, a process that is ongoing.

7   Previously, certain limited statements were attributed to me in the press regarding the qualifications of Mr. Maier for the office of Stark County Sheriff. However, those attributed statements constituted only edited portions of the Jul! statements that were actually made, and do not accurately reflect the full and complete context in which the statements were made.

8.  I specifically deny the allegation that I have already decided, pre-hearing, that the protest should be denied. The Stark County Board of Elections has not yet heard the protest as required by R.C 3513.05,. and I will not form an opinion regarding the merits of the protest until all appropriate information and evidence has been submitted to the Stark County Board of Elections and the parties have had an opportunity to be heard.

9.  I affirmatively state that I am approaching the protest with an open state of mind which will be governed by the law and the facts. I understand my duty to reader a fair and impartial judgment upon the protest filed by Cynthia Balas-Bratton, and I have the full ability to render  a fair judgment in the faithful execution of my duties.

10. In relation to the protest tiled by Cynthia Balas-Bratton, I wiJI perform the duties of my office to the best of my ability and will enforce the election laws, in accordance with the oath I took pursuant to R.C. 3501.08.

This affidavit is St. John's countermand to the obvious prejudicial import - to reasonably minded persons, the SCPR thinks - of the multiple public statements/votes he has made of George Maier's ORC 311.01 qualifications to be Stark County sheriff.

So on two counts (mischaracterizing the SCPR's Monday blog and his affidavit) The Report thinks St. John has has come down with a case of  "foot in mouth" disease.


To review, his official line as published in Monday's blog:

Problem for St. John is that the SCPR is not convinced of his stated reasons and he is not willing to undergo a "cross-examination-esque" Q&A.

The Report has this gnawing feeling that a number of something elses are at play as to why St. John is not staying on.

Maybe the SCPR is onto something and maybe not.

A stand up guy on the public payroll should be willing to face incisive questioning so that the public gets a fair shot at uncovering the full story.

Sometimes even the deepest held secrets on matters such as this leak out.  And if that is the case here, readers can be sure that the SCPR will recall these misgivings, and if suspected information leaches out, St. John can be sure that The Report will revisit the matter in a future blog.

And the last time I checked, in the United States of America we are allowed to accept or not accept what we are being told by anyone and certainly such is the case with public officials.

How many times have Americans had elected/appointed officials look unblinkingly into a camera and deny this or that suspicion and/or that his/her statements belie what is "self-servingly" said to be the import of them?


In addition to The Report doubting the reasons given for his stepping down as a Board member, the SCPR questions his and his attorney's line that he can render an unbiased decision in the Balas-Bratton protest before the Board of Elections.

Why won't St. John answer questions on both matters at the hand of someone who has a great deal of experience of asking probing questions?



"Political Operative" St. John (folks, that is how he describes himself), thinks he can suspend his admitted already formed "personal belief" and have a case of amnesia on that "lurking in his mind" and potentially form a different assessment on hearing the evidence.

Take a look at this excerpt from a recent Alliance Review article:

The Report ventures to say that St. John's protestations to the contrary, common human experience tells us all that to think in such contradictory ways as St John is, makes us "uneasy" and compels most of us to step aside.

Of course, there are always a few who for whatever reason (ego or whatever) engage in an "exercise of fooling oneself" and persist in imposing themselves in situations where the justice of the matter calls out that a reasonable and reflective person recuse himself from judging.

It appears to the SCPR that Mr. St. John is in the throes of fooling himself.  And though one never likes to see a person put himself in such a foolish enterprise, he can have at it for himself.

But it is quite a different matter when a St. John pushes again to affect public processes.

Accordingly, it is fitting and proper that Balas-Bratton has challenged him on his right to participate in judging whether or not George T. Maier possesses the required credentials set out on ORC 311.01 to be qualified to be sheriff of Stark County.

Fortunately, in American, St. John - whether he likes it or not - is accountable to other public officials and therefore is not free to make an "exclusive to himself" judgment about his capacity to be unbiased on the matter before him.

As things stand now, should Secretary of State Jon Husted fail to intervene by noon today, the SCPR is told that Balas-Bratton will be filing a Writ of Prohibition with the Fifth District Court of Appeals (headquartered in Canton) to stop St. John pursing his apparent determination to engage in an "exercising of fooling onself" from doing so in this instance because a paramount "public interest" is at stake.

The SCPR applauds Balas-Bratton for pursuing this extraordinary remedy.

As background to fill readers in on what has already transpired between legal counsel for Balas-Bratton and St. John, here are links to relevant documents:
The Report always presents space to the likes of St. John to have the SCPR reading public hear them out.

Above, The Report has stated St. John's case on the Stark Dems' reappointment process, and what follows in his attorney's statement of his case to be permitted to continue on to judgment in the Balas-Bratton "protest," to wit:


Dear Secretary Husted:

I represent Deametrious St. John, who is a member of the Stark County Board of Elections. Mr.  St. John was appointed to the Board in 2013 and his term will end on February 28,2014. Mr. St. John has ably served in this important office and has conducted himself with pride throughout his tenure.

Currently pending before the Stark County Board of Elections is a protest to the candidacy of George T. Maier to be on the May 6, 2014, Democratic primary ballot for Stark County Sheriff. The  protest has been filed by Cynthia Balas-Bratton, who is represented by Attorney Craig T. Conley.

Attorney Conley has demanded that Mr. St. John abstain from voting on or participating in any  consideration of the protest Attorney Conley has now requested that you "summarily remove or suspend" Mr. St. John from the Stark County Board of Elections.

Attorney Conley's demand that Mr. St. John be summarily removed or suspended must fail for both substantive and procedural reasons, as I explain below.

Attorney Conley alleges that Mr. St. John has "inexplicably refused to recuse himself from the subject Protest." This is a falsehood, inasmuch as we have provided to Attorney Conley a specific and legally sound explanation of why abstention is improper in this case, along with an Affidavit of Mr. St. John. Regrettably, it appears that Attorney Conley chose to omit these two documents from the materials he submitted to your office. Therefore, I am enclosing the letter that we sent to Mr. Conley on Friday, February 14, 2014, as well as a copy of the Affidavit.

Attorney Conley raises a due process argument in relation to his demand that Mr. St. John  abstain. However, a substantial showing of personal bias is required to disqualify a hearing officer or to obtain a ruling that the hearing is unfair. Staschak v. State Med Bd of Ohio, 10th Dist. Franklin No. 03AP-799, 2004-Ohio-4650,1(40. "The term 'bias or prejudice' implies a hostile feeling or spirit of ill-will or undue friendship or favoritism toward one of the litigants or his attorney, with the formation of a fixed anticipatory judgment on the part of the judge, as contradistinguished from an open state of mind which will be governed by the law and the facts." In re Disqualification of Hunter, 137 Ohio St.3d 1201, 2013-Ohio-4467,997 N.E.2d 541,1J9. (Citations omitted.)

Attorney Conley complains that Mr. St. John - as a member of the Stark County Democratic  Central Committee - joined the majority of voting members of the Central Committee in appointing Mr. Maier to the office of Stark County Sheriff. However, this in no way constitutes evidence of "bias." The rule has long been that the outcome of a judicial proceeding alone may not stand as proof of bias or partiality. Meadowbrook Care Ctr. v. Ohio Dept of Job & Family Servs., 10th Dist. Franklin No. 06AP-871,2007-Ohio-6534, [Section] 26(citing Liteky v.United States, 510 U.S. 540, 114S.Q. 1147, 127 L. Ed.2d 474 (1994)). Similarly, the outcome of the votes of the Stark County Democratic Central Committee (in which Mr. St John voted with the majority) in the discharge of its official duties under R.C. 305.02(B) may not stand as proof of bias or partiality.

The attached Affidavit of Deametrious St. John affirmatively refutes any allegation that Mr. St.  John has personal bias in this matter. Mr. St. John has no hostile feeling, spirit of ill-will, undue friendship or favoritism toward either of the parties or their attorneys. He has not formed a fixed anticipatory judgment and instead is approaching the protest with an open state of mind which will be governed by the law and the facts. Mr. St. John folly intends to fulfill his duty to render a fair and impartial judgment upon the protest filed by Cynthia Balas-Bratton.

I have provided this substantive explanation despite the fact that Attorney Conley has utterly failed to establish or show any ground that could possibly warrant you to "summarily remove or suspend" Mr. St. John under R.C. 3501.16. That statute states in pertinent part: "The secretary of state  may summarily remove or suspend any member of a board of elections, or the director, deputy director, or any other employee of the board, for neglect of duty, malfeasance, misfeasance, or nonfeasance in office, for any willful violation of Title XXXV of the Revised Code, or for any other good and sufficient cause."

R.C. 3501.16 authorizes six grounds for the removal or suspension of a member of a board of  elections: (1) neglect of duty, (2) malfeasance, (3) misfeasance, (4) nonfeasance, (5) a willful violation of Title 35 of the Revised Code, and (6) any other good and sufficient cause. Attorney Conley fails to specify or even allege which of these grounds Mr. St. John supposedly committed.

Attorney Conley makes the unsubstantiated allegation that Mr. St. John "evinces a clear violation of his O.R.C. 3501.08 Oath of office." The oath of office for members of the Board of Elections is found in R.C. 3501.08, which requires "an oath that he will support the constitutions of the United States and of the state, will perform the duties of the office to the best of his ability, will enforce the election  laws, and will protect and preserve the records and property pertaining to elections." Again, Attorney Conley launches naked, unsupported allegations without any reference to which specific provision is supposedly violated.

These vague, non-specific and unsupported allegations far fall short of what the law requires for  the Secretary of State to remove or suspend a member of the board of elections. The Ohio Supreme Court has held: "R.C. 3501.16 does not grant the Secretary of State broad discretion in removing election board members. He is required to submit more than 'his reasons for believing' the individual should be removed. Indeed, he cannot remove them except for certain very specific reasons and 'other good and sufficient cause.'" State ex rel Hough v. Brown, 50 Ohio St.2d 329, 332, 364 N.E.2d 275 (1977). (Emphasis original.)

Substantively, Attorney Conley has entirely failed to meet the specific and narrow standards of the law.

Procedurally, Attorney Conley is equally as flawed. His demand for "immediate [emphasis sic] action under O.R.C. 3501.16 to 'summarily remove or suspend' Mr. St. John" is an invitation to the Secretary of State to violate Mr. St. John's due process rights. It is ironic that Attorney Conley demands due process for his client, while seeking to deny due process to Mr. St John. Indeed, Mr. St. John holds the distinction of being the first African-American to ever serve on the Stark County Board of Elections and is uniquely aware of the seriousness of his responsibilities. Further, Mr. St. John views any attempt to deny him due process, particularly as sought here by Attorney Conley, as wholly flawed.

The Ohio Supreme Court has recognized that "an individual who is already an election board member has a greater constitutional interest in keeping that position than does an individual who has not yet been appointed." State ex rel Hough v. Brown, 50 Ohio St.2d 329, 332, 364 N.E.2d 275 (1977).

Mr. St. John's constitutional interest is guaranteed to due process by virtue of Section 38, Art. II  of the Ohio Constitution, which states in pertinent part: "Laws shall be passed providing for the prompt removal from office, upon complaint and hearing, of all officers * * * .for any misconduct involving moral turpitude or for other cause provided by law." (Emphasis added.) This constitutional requirement of "upon complaint and hearing" is repeated and implemented by R.C. 3.07.

Following these constitutional and statutory mandates, the Ohio Supreme Court has held that "a formal complaint and hearing are required prior to any removal of a member of a board of elections * * *." State ex rel Hughes v. Brown, 31 Ohio St.2d 41, 44, 285 N.E 2d 376 (1972). The only exceptions to this rule are where the law automatically requires an office to be vacated, such as when a sheriff has been absent from the county for 90 days, or where a person accepts a second office whose duties are incompatible with those of another office already held. These exceptions do not apply here.

Attorney Conley demands that Mr. St. John be immediately and summarily removed from office.  This would be an egregious violation of the due process requirements of Ohio law.

For the above reasons, we respectfully request that you deny the demands of Attorney Conley, and thereby permit Mr. St. John to continue to perform his duties as a member of the Stark County Board of Elections.

Very truly yours,


Steven P. Okey   

Copy: Deametrious St. John
Craig T. Conley, Esq.
Stark County Board of Elections

Here are two follow up letters which contain Craig Conley's response (as Balas-Bratton's attorney):

The first letter:

Dear Mr. Husted:

Although I have not yet received a copy of sane from Attorney Okey, I am in receipt of a copy of his February 18, 2014 letter to you  ... .

At the outset, I decline to respond to Attorney Okey's multiple ad hominem  attacks,  all of which are but the proverbial "red herrings"'.

As to Mr. St. John's self-serving and grossly disingenuous Affidavit, I refer you to my two responsive February 14, 2014 memos to Attorney Okey, true copies of which follow {along with a true copy of The Alliance Review  article referred to therein).

In that regard, to paraphrase language from Attorney Okey's aforesaid letter, "Regrettably, it appears that Attorney Okey chose to emit those two responsive memos from the materials he submitted to your office".

Stated succinctly, as set forth in those two responsive memos, it simply is not enough for Mr. St. John to say "it ain't so" via a self-serving affidavit.
As to my February 17, 2014 request of you to "summarily remove or suspend" Mr. St. John, that phrase is a direct quote from O.R.C. 3501,16; i.e., it is not my phraseology,

In that regard, as you are certainly aware, the Ohio Supreme Court has defined "summarily" to mean "without ceremony or delay''.

And Conley's letter to Attorney Okey in the wake of Okey's "responsive to Conley" letters sent earlier in the week by Conley to the Ohio secretary of state:

Steven P. Okey, Esq. FROM:  Craig T. Conley, Esq.

RE:    Cynthia    Balas-Bratton's    Protest    Against    Maier Candidacy

With reference to your February 18, 2014 letter to Secretary of State Husted, 

I have already responded thereto (and you should receive a copy of that response in tomorrow's mail).

Although my response to Secretary Husted appropriately did not include mention of the matter, I must express my dismay (if not disgust) that you "played the race card" by going out of your way to inform Secretary Husted that your client "holds the distinction of being the first African-American to ever serve on the Stark County Board of Elections", which "distinction" of course per se means that he, apparently unlike. European-Americans, "is uniquely aware of the seriousness of his responsibility".

In short, SHAME ON YOU! 

(the last sentence was inadvertently omitted in the original publication by the SCPR)


Interesting, no?

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