Saturday, March 27, 2010

Brown County: Money and Vengeance Edition

OK, previously on WMD....We disclosed the incident involving Judge Scott Gusweiler and Clerk of Courts Tina Meranda. Then, we discussed how Tina Meranda decided to get bomb throwing and self proclaimed "proud Ambulance chaser" (see last night's 700wlw broadcast between 11pm and midnight) Eric Deters to bring further shame and reproach on Brown County, and generally cost the county more money. Well, we now have some updates.

Mark goes on the Air with Bulldog, Bulldog obfuscates

So, I'm driving home last night and I hear Deters on the air. I had been told he was going to release info on this case on his website. Hadn't seen anything, so I figured I would call. As I am on hold, Deters is engaging in his usual schizophrenic diatribes, on the one hand claiming to be a "proud ambulance chaser" but then railing against Obamacare and the high costs of providing health care to his employees in his "businesses." Sound a bit hypocritical? Yep. Anyway, I get on the air and I ask the Bulldog what this is really all about: is it an ethics thing, money thing, what is it since it sounds like it is going to be in civil court? Well, the Bulldog lashes out and says he won't discuss the case until he releases his lawsuit on Monday on his website, and that he doesn't leak info on cases, but that the lawsuit would "speak for itself." Hmmm...doesn't leak anything about cases before filing suit, eh? Well then, what about this from the Brown County Press:

Deters Gives Advanced Copy of Lawsuit to Brown County Press to Taint Jury Pool

(headline is mine)
Allegations of "abusive, overbearing and inappropriate behavior" are included in an upcoming lawsuit against Brown County Common Pleas Judge Scott Gusweiler.

Brown County Clerk of Courts Tina Meranda is suing Gusweiler in Brown County for "a pattern and practice" of such behavior "outside the scope of his duties" as Judge.

Meranda's attorney, Eric Deters, released a preliminary copy of the pending suit to the Brown County Press. It had not been filed with the court at press time.

The complaint is alleging that Judge Gusweiler violated Ohio Revised Code 2921.03 which covers criminal intimidation.

OK, now previously, in the comments for the last update, someone recited the chapter and verse of what this violation entails per the Ohio revised code. Go check it out in the comments for the last update.

But, do I not see a strategy developing by the pathological schitzoid Deters? Not willing to debate or face questions regarding the suit, he does release a "preliminary copy" to the local press of the county in question...why? We will get back to this later.

However, regarding the ORC violation and criminal actions, I don't have a law degree. I wasn't there. So, I will defer to Brown County Prosecutor Jessica Little, cited in the article from the Press:
Brown County Prosecuting Attorney said in her opinion, Gusweiler did not violate that statute.

"I do not intend to pursue any criminal proceeding in any manner whatsoever" Little said.

Little added that only the Prosecuting Attorney can bring a criminal complaint in the county, but that Meranda can pursue a civil complaint against Gusweiler if she wishes.

So, this answers the one question. This is not about the law...This is about money and vengeance. Before ol' Chuckles comes over and begins to besmirch Prosecutor Little, let me say that while I don't know her personally I have discussed her legal acumen with Paul Hall, Danny Bubp and others and they all say she is very competent and up to the job and has the highest degree of integriy. Chuckles will come here trying to cry conspiracy, but that is all he and the 5-8 people who show up for Democrat central committee meetings ever do nowadays. Now, in the most recent update, a commenter said that the origins of the original incident involving changing of the locks in the Clerk's office had to do with:
The day in question (the day that the locks were changed), Court was in session at 8:00a.m. However, the Clerk's office was on a two-hour snow delay (on the tax payers dollar). This made it necessary for someone from the court's office to gain access to the Clerk's office to get the files needed so that court sessions could proceed that morning.

Now, did this make Meranda lose face? I don't know. But, needless to say, the question of what happened at this time leaves one to question. I have no personal knowledge of current wrongdoing, but let us not forget that Ms. Meranda's office was cited by outgoing Auditor of State Mary Taylor in an audit and found to have engaged in some wrongdoing. Ms. Meranda's response was to fire one employee, blame all her predecessors, and then act like she was the lone crier of foul in the wilderness. Throwing people under the bus for embarrassing her appears to be standard operating procedure. Wasn't aware Tina was from Chicago.

OK, so let's get back to the complaint filed by Tina and the Bullhorn, Eric Deters:
One entry in the complaint reads; "Six months after becoming Judge, Defendant (Gusweiler) instructed Plaintiff's (Meranda) staff not to accept any filings from his predecessor, because the Defendant stated 'The sons-of-b****** have had plenty of time to learn who is the Judge around here."

There are a total of 13 factual allegations in the complaint.

OK, these are "factual" complaints. Where are the dates? Where are the specifics? All I am hearing so far is hearsay and what seems like an effort to paint Gusweiler as some type of loose cursing cannon. While the language may be regrettable, a)we don't know for a fact this language was used, and b)some people use more colorful metaphors.

The complaint at the heart of the dispute regards a set of keys to the Clerk of Courts office that Gusweiler issued a court order to Meranda to provide.

The complaint alleges that Gusweiler told Meranda he "had a deputy sheriff waiting to take her to jail for contempt of court" if she didn't provide them to him.

It continues, saying that Brown County Prosecuting Attorney Jessica Little was present and told Gusweiler not to have Meranda arrested without due process.

The complaint alleges that Gusweiler responded "I don't need your f****** advice" and continued that "fearing Defendant and his demeanor, Plaintiff gave Defendant the keys he demanded."

Woah, wait a minute here! We have a shifting story now....Back in the first story covering this issue, Ms. Meranda was quoted like this:
Meranda said Gusweiler then told the two women "She will give me the keys or she'll be arrested."

Little responded "Judge I represent both of you, but I advise you not to arrest her without due process."

Meranda said the judge responded "I don't give a f*** about your advice."
At that point, Meranda turned over the keys.

Which is it? More inconsistencies appear as one looks over the retellings vs. the latest. More and more, this appears to be revenge driven and money driven. Maybe Ms. Meranda needs some help with the medical bills. Maybe the winery isn't doing well. I don't know, but I don't see this as "crusading clerk of courts standing up for the rule of law" especially given Meranda's history of less than above board meandering herself.

Back to the latest from the press:
The lawsuit says that because of those actions, Gusweiler is guilty of "attempting to influence, intimidate or hinder a public servant (Meranda) in the discharge of the person's duty".

Meranda is asking the court to order Gusweiler not to interfere with her duties and to order him to stop his "abusive, overbearing and inappropriate" behavior, saying such behavior is "outside the scope" of his duties as Judge.

The complaint concludes by asking for a jury trial and for compensatory and punitive damages against Judge Gusweiler.

Should the case go to trial, the Ohio Supreme Court will assign a visiting judge to hear the case.

Once the complaint is filed with the court, Gusweiler will be provided an attorney at county expense.

His attorney would then respond to the complaint

So, because of some choice words, some crazy circumstances, hurt pride and who knows what else, this is going to cost the county tens of thousands of dollars in legal fees, as well as lost hours of work by both of these officials and possibly the prosecutor, who may be a material witness. Look, I am disappointed in the language used by Gusweiler and by the hiring of Deters to drag this county through the mud. If there is wrongdoing, there should be punishment for it. However, the true sadness is that this could have all been handled better with some freaking maturity on both sides.

However, to paint Meranda as some crusader against overbearing judges misses some of the details. She is asking for compensatory and PUNITIVE damages. She is making the county incur thousands in legal costs. Also, her attorney is playing dirty pool by releasing this tripe to the local media to taint the jury pool (note how she requests a jury trial, but yet how can people not be biased now that they have seen the alleged language used by Gusweiler and the slanted story of Ms. Meranda?). She will also be costing the state money in terms of sending in a visiting judge.

Again, the questions remain: where did this all start? How could it have been avoided? What specifically is defined as criminal? The only one looking like having common sense in this matter is Prosecutor Little. However, Eric Deters is not the crusading attorney. He is using this to further his career and also to taint the public opinion against Gusweiler.

We will stay on these developments here at WMD. Deters will supposedly be releasing the full text of the lawsuit Monday. Maybe at that time we will get more perspective on the situation, and who knows, maybe thoughts will change. But, at this point, this appears to be a scorched earth vendetta by a public official who has done similar things in the past, and who doesn't care what it may cost the county or state in terms of reputation as well as actual dollars.