Thursday, April 8, 2010

Cleveland - Where the Fun Never Stops

So we wait to see what happens in Maricopa County now that Joe no longer has his lapdog Andy Thomas handy. What, you didn't know Thomas resigned as County Attorney so he could run for state Attorney General?
Arpaio said he was not surprised by Thomas' resignation, though he admitted that his departure could jeopardize the prosecution of illegal immigrants in Maricopa County.

"I still have the authority to arrest people," Arpaio said. "We'll see if they prosecute them."

Arizona law says the County Supervisors appoint Andy's successor, but he wants the Governor to make the pick. Who draws the short straw may go some toward answering Joe's question.

Meanwhile Adam Stoddard waits to find out whether he'll have to ask Joe to pay his fine or he'll have to write 500 times, "I will no longer read privileged attorney-client communications when I might get caught."

Up in Connecticut, Steve Hayes has decided not to ask the state to assist him in a suicide attempt, which moots for the time being the question of whether his lawyers' obligation is to assist him in the endeavor or intervene to prevent their client from getting his wish. So the trial can proceed - actually jury selection. The trial is scheduled in the fall.

Then there's Juneau County, Wisconsin where District Attorney Scott Southworth sent a letter warning school boards that he stands ready and willing to prosecute teachers who obey the state law and teach sex education including instruction in contraception. Further, he warns that since the ACLU will be monitoring compliance with the law, teachers should consult counsel.*

So with that set of constitutional crises on hold for the moment, and with another week yet before

So let us drop in again on the ever curious happenings in and around the common pleas courtroom of Judge Shirley Strickland Saffold, Cuyahoga County, Ohio. You remember her.

She's the one who, back in 1995, was lecturing a woman who'd entered a guilty plea credit card fraud as part of an effort to find a good man. From the bench, in open court, Saffold told the woman:
Men are easy. You can go sit at the bus stop, put on a short skirt, cross your legs and pick up 25. Ten of them will give you their money. It's the truth. If you don't pick up the first 10, then all you got to do is open your legs a little bit and cross them at the bottom and then they'll stop.

But I just retell that story because, well, because I can't resist. What's relevant about her now is that she's the judge (at least for the moment) to whom Anthony Sowell's death penalty case has been assigned. And she's the judge who, it turns out, holds the AOL account from which "lawmiss" posts comments to news stories, including those about cases of hers, on the website of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. Saffold, you'll recall, denied that she did the posting. It was all the work of her daughter Sydney, she (and Sydney) said.

To which I, for reasons, that may be apparent a few paragraphs from now, say merely, "No comment."

Anyway, there have been, as they say, developments.

First, she's been asked to recuse herself from the Sowell case. In fact, she's being asked to recuse herself from every case in which Rufus Sims is counsel. As the Plain Dealer reports:

One lawmiss post, regarding a 2009 trial of an RTA bus driver, accused Sims of doing a disservice to a client.

"If only he could shut his Amos and Andy style mouth," the post reads. " What makes him think that is [sic] he insults and acts like buffon [sic] that it will cause the judge to think and see it his way. There are so many lawyers that could've done a much better job. This was not a tough case, folks. She should've hired a lawyer with the experience to truly handle her needs. Amos and Andy, shuffling around did not do it."

She's declined to do that, though she has a hearing scheduled for next week on recusal from the Sowell case.

But, of course, that's not the end of things. Because there's the principle of the thing. That's a $50,000,000 principle, if you were wondering. Or at least, the judge thinks it is.

Yesterday Shirley and Sydney filed suit (copy of complaint here) against the Plain Dealer and related entities and 990

currently unknown individuals that published defamatory and attacking statements against Plaintiffs under anonymous User Names on that Plaintiffs will be able to locate once Defendants provide their Registration Information.

As I say, Shirley and Sydney want a cool 50 million - 25 in actual damages and 25 in punitive damages. Their complaint? Six counts:

Breach of Contract
Tortious Interference with a Contract
Promissory Estoppel
Invasion of Privacy/False Light

OK, the various forms of contract claims make some sense. Lawmiss signed up as a commentor with the promise of privacy and anonymity, a promise the PD broke. But the false light claims seems to rest mostly on the fact that the PD described the lawmiss e-mail address as the judge's personal address when she claims it's a family address used jointly by she and her daughter. As for defamation? That's all those folks who read the story and think the judge is a . . . . I don't want to say it lest I be sued.

Then there's the small matter of 25 million in actual damages. Hard to see how they came up with that figure. (Actually, it's not hard at all. Shirley, Sydney, and their lawyer pulled it out of their collective asses; that's how it's done.)

Here's what I do know.

They just ensured a whole lot more people would read the words of "lawmiss." And it seems that their lawyer, at least according to the PD, has conceded what neither Sydney nor Shirley would: The judge is responsible for at least some of what "lawmiss" said.

Cleveland. Someplace special.


*I haven't a clue why he thinks ACLU monitoring will be a problem for teachers who obey the law, but I can see that he might think just flinging the words ACLU around will scare the bejesus out of the Juneau County locals.


  1. Defamation would obviously raise issues of whether the statements in question were true or not which in turn would mean the judge and daughter would have to be deposed under oath and their ISP records would be subject to discovery, right?

    This doesn't end well for our fair Judge.

    Oh, and lest you want to sue me, this is Lee Stonum, conflicted son of Cleveland and current Orange County, California Criminal Defense Attorney. That way Jeff doesn't have to respond to any requests for my registration info.

  2. Actually, I don't have any registration info on you. Like Sgt. Schultz, I know nothing.

    Seems you've outed yourself for no reason.