Sunday, April 11, 2010

Black Journalist Accuses Judge McGinty Of Harassment For Winning Appellate Court Reinstatement Of A Lawsuit He Dismissed And Seeks NAACP Support

Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas Judge Timothy McGinty

From the Metro Desk of the Determiner Weekly.Com and the Kathy Wray Coleman Online News Blog and Media Network

Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas Judge Timothy McGinty is being accused of harassing African-American Journalist Kathy Wray Coleman in retaliation for her having won an appeal last year in the Ohio Eighth District Court of Appeals where the appellate court reinstated his prior dismissal of a lawsuit filed by the journalist and community activist. The suit at issues pertains now to claims of intentional infliction of emotional distress and malicious prosecution brought by Coleman against a Beachwood, Oh. woman after a Shaker Hts. Municipal Court jury, in 2005, found her not guilty of a misdemeanor charge of alleged telecommunications harassment brought by the City of Beachwood. According to Coleman, the woman invited her to call for documents she was holding and then got with Beachwood officials to falsely claim she told her not to call.

Before the bogus criminal trial, where she was exonerated by the diverse jury in just under an hour, Coleman said she was offered a dismissal of the criminal charge if she would agree to stop writing articles for the Call and Post Newspaper and to not sue Gill and others relative to any potential malfeasance or violations of her constitutional and statutory rights. Coleman said that at the advice of Call and Post officials she opted for a trial so that Beachwood and Shaker Heights officials, including law director Margaret Anne Cannon, who serves both entities, would understand that free speech regarding newspaper articles on issues of public concern pertinent to Cleveland's Black community should not be silenced via unfounded and retaliatory criminal prosecutions.

Coleman had named various defendants including Myrna R Gill, of Beachwood, whom Coleman alleges in the suit lied via a criminal complaint of telecommunications harassment where Gill told police that Coleman had called her three times in one month after she and Coleman had severed business ties in October 2003, though before trial Coleman's attorney, Terry Gilbert, gave police and prosecutors documents authored by Gill that revealed that she and the journalist had had some 10 meetings in 2004. Still, they prosecuted Coleman, the suit says. The suit also alleges that the criminal prosecution was malicious and in retaliation for a series of articles written by the 16-year journalist as to alleged housing discrimination against Blacks in Shaker Hts. Those articles were published in the Call and Post, a weekly that targets the Black community.

“Judge McGinty has ignored the Local Rules of the Common Pleas Court by refusing a Case Management Conference upon reinstatement of the lawsuit that is, among other issues, required in order to set an agreed upon discovery schedule and to determine the deadline date for the filing of a dismissal motion by Gill's insurance related attorney,” said Coleman. “Instead, he set a deadline date of May 3 for Gill's attorney to seek to dismiss the suit and it was just set some 12 days ago without a prior pretrial date as required, or an opportunity for the exchange of evidence and other activity via discovery.”

Coleman says that Attorney Wendell Scott Ramsey, whom she hired after the appeal was taken, filed a motion to withdraw after she won the appeal, and on March 31 McGinty ruled that Ramsey could withdraw but did not give her any time to seek new counsel. Though the applicable provision of the Ohio Lawyer's Professional Code of Responsibility requires that an attorney do everything possible to protect the rights and interests of his or her client upon seeking to withdraw, Coleman says that Ramsey would not ask for time for her to seek new counsel upon the court's granting of his request to withdraw, even though she paid him for his non-services up front.

Prior to the successful appeal and at the appellate level she represented herself in the matter, though she says that due to the complicated legal issues of the case she now needs representative counsel. Since discovery takes some 90 days in the least and McGinty has set a deadline of May 3 for Gill to seek dismissal without permitting discovery Coleman contends that the judge has, in effect, orchestrated a prejudicial forum to help Gill secure dismissal of the lawsuit.

“This Judge seems to stop at nothing,” said Coleman. “And this type of activity is what Blacks and women are typically subjected to in the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas, which is why we rarely even get to trial to seek redress for illegal wrongs. All we read about now is typically reverse discrimination suits brought by Whites against Blacks whereby non-Blacks can get to trial but we, as Blacks, rarely can due seemingly to judicial corruption. It often appears that the worst judges get the most endorsements from the local media and area bar associations."

Coleman said further that Ramsey did not even send her notice that his motion to withdraw had been granted and neither did the Clerk of Courts. She says she just happen to check the online case docket on April 10 and, in turn, saw the judge's ruling. The case docket reveals that notice was allegedly sent before McGinty had even granted Ramsey's motion to withdraw which, according to Coleman, means she has been denied proper notice. Additionally, said Coleman, McGinty has illegally ordered the parties in the case to personally deliver all filings to him so that when she files a motion for an extension to seek another attorney he can apparently have her illegally arrested in his chambers.

“Why would it be necessary that I deliver anything to this man,?” questioned Coleman, who in 2008 was illegally jailed in the county where she was allegedly threatened over Call and Post articles, given a knockout drug, and held naked in a jail cell supervised by a male employee before being released four days later without charges. The jailing, she says, was set up by McGinty, a former assistant county prosecutor, in alleged retaliation for the lawsuit before him, even though he had no jurisdiction other than the civil suit.

Coleman says that she intends to file a motion for an extension to secure new counsel and that she does not intend to go to his chambers to hand him a copy to get illegally arrested. No authority, says Coleman, permits the judge to use such an illegal double standard where Blacks, women and those apparently slated for judicial harassment are concerned.

“Obviously I need to file an affidavit of prejudice against Judge McGinty for determination by acting Ohio Supreme Court Chief Justice Paul Pfeifer,” Coleman said. “I know for sure that in this matter the media will not address it because unlike Cuyahoga Judge Shirley Strickland Saffold, who is Black, Judge McGinty is White and male.”

Saffold is under fire by an attorney representing suspected serial killer Anthony Sowell. That attorney claims bias by the judge, though he has yet to file an affidavit of prejudice. And in spite of the absence of any such filing, Saffold is the ongoing target of media publicity, including a demand by the Cleveland Plain Dealer, Ohio's largest newspaper, for the attorney in question to file an affidavit of prejudice against her.

Saffold was assigned to the Sowell case after McGinty, who had been selected via random draw, withdrew from the case. His withdrawal followed his release of Sowell's mental health records to a Plain Dealer reporter and emails about Sowell that he allegedly sent to newspaper affiliates that were allegedly designated as “off the record.” Though Saffold is under scrutiny, no media have demanded that an attorney for Sowell file a complaint with the bar against McGinty relative to his actions against Sowell, and sources say that McGinty was, and still allegedly is, an ongoing source to the Plain Dealer and other media outlets regarding Black defendants prosecuted in the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas, and his judicial colleagues, whom he routinely criticizes publicly for alleged impropriety.

“I guess it is my turn, again, to experience the wrath of Judge McGinty,” said Coleman. “Withdrawing from the lawsuit before him in good faith and due to obvious prejudice is too much like right and would not give him a forum to continue his ongoing harassment of me. I would again ask Cleveland NAACP President George Forbes to step in given some 15 years of service to the Call and Post where he is general counsel and where it is clear that the litigation before McGinty involves retaliation for Call and Post articles written by me and harassment because I am both Black and female.”