Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Former Anthony Sowell Serial Murderer Case Judge Tim McGinty Abruptly Resigns From Bench, Might Run For Prosecutor, Activists Want FBI Investigation

Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas Judge Timothy McGinty, who has resigned from the bench, effective Oct. 31




From the Metro Desk of The Kathy Wray Coleman Online News Blog.Com (www.kathywraycolemanonlinenewsblog.com)

After winning reelection just last year, and after serving nearly 19 years on the common pleas bench, Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas Judge Timothy McGinty, 60, has resigned, effective Oct. 31.

By state law, Ohio Republican Gov. John Kasich will appoint his replacement.

"Now that he has resigned he has a lot of time to think about all of the unfair and wrong decisions he has made," said longtime Community Activist Ada Averyhart, 77. "I hope he can sleep at night."

Once called "a cheap- shot artist" by then judge Sam Zingale, whose seat he took in 1992 following a mudslinging campaign, and infamous for recusing himself from the Anthony Sowell capital murder case after handing the since convicted serial killer's medical and mental health records to Cleveland Plain Dealer Newspaper reporters, the outspoken McGinty has been surprisingly mum about his reason for leaving the bench.

He caused a firestorm of controversy when he did an interview for a CBS News special on the Imperial Ave. Murders in March 2010 and boldly accused the City of Cleveland, Police Chief Michael McGraph, Safety Director Martin Flask, police and other city officials of botching the Sowell murder investigation, one that proved detrimental since Sowell was arrested in 2008 but released from custody and six of the 11 Black women that he murdered went missing thereafter.

Sowell was captured again in 2009, after a woman got away and filed a complaint of rape. And the remains of the women, whose bodies he dismembered at his home on Imperial Ave in the impoverished Mt. Pleasant area on Cleveland's predominantly Black east side of town, were uncovered by police beginning on Oct 29, 2009, drawing international attention.

Convicted by a Cuyahoga County common pleas court jury on July 22 of numerous counts of aggravated murder and other crimes and subsequently sentenced to the death penalty by common pleas judge Dick Ambrose, Sowell's convictions are currently on appeal. McGinty, who had recused himself from the capital murder case before the CBS interview, was initially replaced with common pleas judge Shirley Strickland Saffold. But Strickland Saffold was removed by then acting Ohio Supreme Court Chief Justice Paul Pfeifer not long after her handpicked assignment by Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas Administrative and Presiding Judge Nancy Fuerst due to negative publicity following a highly publicized brawl between the judge and Sowell Defense Attorney Rufus Sims.

A former assistant Cuyahoga County prosecutor, McGinty is also remembered for forcing a young Native-American woman convicted of drunk driving to write a 10-page essay on the perils of drunk driving as part of her sentence, an order quickly overturned on appeal after a three-judge state appeals court panel said he abused his discretion. The unprecedented essay requirement also angered activists groups, who said that the woman was singled out because she is part Cherokee Indian and that McGinty's actions on that issue were allegedly "racist."

And as an assistant county prosecutor under former Cuyahoga County Prosecutor John Corrigan, a job that he held before becoming judge, McGinty had a reputation of being overzealous, prosecuting Blacks religiously, including a man named Michael Green, who served 13 years in prison and was released in 2001 through DNA sampling and after the blond, blued-eyed White woman that said he raped her recanted. Following a story on the case by former Plain Dealer Columnist Connie Schultz, the wife of Democratic U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio, the true rapist came forward, and Schultz won a Pulitzer Prize for journalistic excellence, partly because of McGinty's mishap.

McGinty has other baggage too. He signed the warrant for Cleveland police to storm the family home of Brandon McCloud, then 16 and accused of robbing a delivery pizza man. Though unarmed, McCloud, who was Black, was shot some 12 times by police, and killed, sparking community protests.

And to add a little diversity to his outbursts, the judge unnecessarily sent a White female community activist to a mental ward for a month because she wore an anti-George Bush t-shirt to court proceedings where the 120-pound woman was railroaded with two felony convictions of assault on the two White male Cleveland Hts. policemen that arrested her for posting anti-George Bush signs on street poles.

Some speculate that the judge, who last year was rebuked by the Ohio Eighth District Court of Appeals via a reversal of his illegal order to imprison the son of a Black community activist for an alleged probation violation when the probation period was up, might run for county prosecutor in the May 2012 Democratic Primary election since Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Bill Mason is not running for reelection. Others, however, question whether the pompous and arrogant McGinty is in trouble and is running instead from U.S. District Attorney Steve Dettlebach and the Cleveland FBI, a scenario that, if true, might ultimately make him simply another judge that has bit the dust as part of an ongoing county corruption probe.

"Few people resign a judgeship after just getting reelected on a hope to win a prosecutor's seat that is up for grabs and he needs to be watched as to the dirt he might do in civil and criminal cases between now and his stated resignation," said Imperial Women Leader Kathy Wray Coleman. "Judge McGinty is, I believe, as corrupt and anti-Democratic as they come, and a serious danger to the administration of justice. We call for a swift FBI investigation, a federal prosecution, and his jailing if he is found guilty by a duly impaneled jury of his peers of corruption in office."

The deadline for filing to run for county prosecutor is Dec 7. Others that have either filed or are prospective candidates for the office are former Cleveland Law Director Robert Triozzi, who served under current Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson, Cleveland Ward 13 Councilman Kevin Kelley, Attorney James J. McDonnell, a former North Royalton city prosecutor and brother of common pleas judge Nancy McDonnell, and Subodh Chandra, a former Cleveland law director under former Cleveland Mayor Jane Campbell, Jackson's predecessor.

If McGinty were to be charged for alleged crimes in office he would follow former county common pleas judges Bridget McCafferty, 45, who is now serving a 14- month prison sentence for allegedly lying to the FBI on whether she was involved in case fixing, and Steven Terry, 53, who last week received a maximum 63-month sentence, also from Federal District Court Judge Sara Lioi. Both McCafferty and Terry say they are innocent and will appeal. And the Democrat McGinty would join a long list of more than 50 Cuyahoga County Democratic Party affiliates charged with a host of corruption-related crimes including former Cuyahoga County Auditor Frank Russo, who has pleaded guilty and faces 21-years in prison, and Jimmy Dimora, a former Cuyahoga County Commissioner and former chair of the county Democratic Party who awaits trial on some 28 corruption-related charges, including racketeering in office.

Russo testified for the prosecution at the trials of McCafferty and Terry, both held at the Federal District Court of the Northern District of Ohio in Akron instead of the district court in Cleveland, as were the criminal trials of others charged in the county corruption probe, partly because of potential ties to federal district judges in Cleveland, some of whom were previously Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas judges themselves. There, he took the stand against Terry and told jurors that the former judge, who is Black and was ultimately convicted of three of the five corruption- related charges for which he was being tried, fixed a foreclosure case for him. Russo then stunned the courtroom and a host of media by testifying, among other allegations, that he, as a former powerful big wig of the Cuyahoga County Democratic Party, had damming information of potential impropriety by 10 other judges, comments that caught the public's attention with calls from bloggers and community activists for the names of the alleged 10 judicial culprits.

McGinty's resignation comes less than two months after the resignation of former Cleveland NAACP Executive Director Stanley Miller, whom the controversial judge appointed as a Cuyahoga County Grand Jury Foreman where Miller led the way for the indictments of criminal charges against Blacks that the grand jury would not previously indict on the same issues, including then 24-year-old college student Rebecca Whitby.

Whitby had allegedly been beaten and called the n-word by Cleveland Fifth District Police before the Miller-led indictment of her on numerous criminal charges, including assault on the White male police officers that an elderly White neighbor says she heard make the racial slurs. That prosecution, data show, came after she complained to Cleveland city officials of police brutality and other alleged Civil Rights violations and was allegedly an effort to derail a potential lawsuit against the City of Cleveland, police and others by the Whitby family.

Ohio common pleas court judges hear, among other matters, felony criminal cases, foreclosures, and lawsuits that seek damages in excess of $15 thousand.

Reach Journalist Kathy Wray Coleman at www.kathywraycolemanonlinenewsblog.com, ktcoleman8@aol.com and phone number: 216-932-3114.