The Third Paradox

OCGJ began 2014 with the Anuszewski-Zinn Paradox and 2015 with an analysis of the bazaar contradictions manifest in the Clayton Luckie/James Schmidt public corruption trials and sentencing. If you remain unconvinced that Ohio has the best system of justice money and influence can buy, Judge Tracie Hunter’s lynching should put you over the top.

To be clear, OCGJ does not question that Dennis Anuszewski, Clayton Luckie and Tracie Hunter committed crimes and/or misdemeanors. However, the issue is not whether or not they broke the law; it is the outrageous departure from due process that led to their convictions and sentencing compared to consummate Republican insiders, Monte Zinn and James Schmidt. The comparison between James Schmidt and Tracie Hunter removes all shadow of a doubt that something is rotten in the state of Ohio. It starts with Republican Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters, Judges Norbert Nadal and Sumner Walters, and works its way up to the Ohio Supreme Court.

Judge Hunter’s ordeal began when Joe Deter’s and Ohio AG Mike DeWine’s attack-dog Special Prosecutors Scott Croswell and Merlyn Shiverdecker brought Hunter’s case before a Hamilton County Grand Jury. Of course they argued successfully for an indictment on eight felony charges. That’s what prosecutors do. Hunter was finally convicted on one fourth degree felony, “unlawful interest in a public contract,”(2) and for it received a 6-month prison sentence. On the other hand, Greene County Treasurer James Schmidt’s case never came before a grand jury because of a “slap-on-the-wrist” plea bargain to the same charge as Judge Hunter’s, but downgraded to a misdemeanor by Judge Sumner Walters. Schmidt also pled guilty to three other misdemeanors.

Outrage number one: Greene County Prosecutor Steve Haller sat on an Ohio Ethics Commission investigation for more than three years. Not until Schmidt fired an employee after he learned she provided information to the Ethics Commission on his case (6) did Mike DeWine’s inner circle decide it was time for James Schmidt to take a fall, albeit with the softest of landings. Forget Schmidt’s decades-long pattern of corruption, not to mention his firing of a state employee alone violated Ohio’s whistleblower protection statute. (9) And of course there was nary a word of that from Special Prosecutor Ron O’Brien, Judge Sumner Walters or the Ohio Supreme Court Disciplinary Counsel.

Outrage number two: Schmidt had been exercising an “unlawful interest in a public contract” for more than 20 years under the watchful eye of Greene County Probate Court Judge Robert Hagler. In fact Hagler was solely responsible for authorizing Treasurer Schmidt’s illegal work for Hagler’s Probate Court. Pursuant to Ohio Revised Code, Section 2921.42(A)(1) that is clearly a fourth degree felony, but the Ohio legal machine got the wrong guy, or at best missed a co-conspirator when they let Hagler crawl back under a rock.

Outrage number three: After serving barely half his sentence of three years community control sanctions, in a bazaar move to wipe clean his nefarious conduct with the Ohio Supreme Court, Schmidt petitioned the Court’s Disciplinary Counsel to suspend his law license and then stay that suspension so he could continue to practice law. Of course they accommodated AG Mike DeWine’s longtime political ally, but with mitigating circumstances which included 24 letters attesting to Schmidt’s high moral character, including letters from a United States district court judge, two from common pleas court judges and one from a former United States Attorney;(10) and therein lies the ultimate hypocrisy, not to mention an incredible departure from due process.

In Judge Nadal’s sentencing video he asserts the “double whammy” gave him no choice but to send Judge Hunter to prison despite 18 character witnesses attesting to her life-long service to her community as pastor, mentor and good citizen. Judge Nadal claimed one fourth degree felony by an elected official who was also a judge warranted the prison sentence. Judge Sumner Walters and the Ohio Supreme Court claimed twenty years of Schmidt’s graft and corruption were wiped clean by character references by two dozen attorneys, prosecutors and judges, most or all of them partisan Republicans.

Judge Nadal’s condescending “double whammy” soliloquy  betrays his disregard for due process and his assumption the citizens can’t filter out his B*** S***. In his sentencing decision he also mentions Tracie Hunter violated her oath of office, which she probably did in a few instances. James Schmidt did it for more than twenty years with Greene County Probate Court Judge Robert Hagler looking on and yet the corrupt Greene County Common Pleas Court and the highest court in The State of Ohio not only saved him from an embarrassing prison sentence, but also gave back his license to practice law. There are two very different legal codes in Ohio; one that applies to the citizens and enemies of GOP insiders and the other that provides top cover for the political class.

Sources:

  1. Tom McKee, Tracie Hunter: Convicted juvenile court judge sentenced to six months in jail, WCPO, December 5, 2014.
  2. FOX 19 Investigates: Grand jury indicts Judge Tracie Hunter, Jan 10, 2014.
  3. Tom McKee, Tracie Hunter: Convicted court judge sentenced to six months in jail, WCPO, 12/5/2014.
  4. Disciplinary Counsel v. Schmidt, 134 Ohio St.3d 557, (Dec 6) 2012-Ohio-5712.
  5. Paul Collins, Schmidt resigns from position, Times Community Newspapers, Dec 14, 2010.
  6. Cornelius Frolik, Fear of job loss kept some Schmidt workers quiet, Dayton Daily News, Dec 19, 2010.
  7. Cornelius Frolik & Lawrence Budd, Greene County Treasurer resigns from office, DDN, Dec 14, 2010.
  8. Ohio Revised Code, Section 2921.42, Having an unlawful influence in a public contract.
  9. Ohio Revised Code 4113.52, Reporting violation of law by employer or fellow employee.
  10. Mark Gokavi, Ohio Supreme Court considering one-year, stayed suspension for ex-Greene County Treasurer, Dayton Daily News, Aug 3, 2012.

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