|Cleveland Ward 2|
Councilman Zack Reed
CLEVELAND, Ohio- Cleveland Ward 2 Councilman Zack Reed was sentenced to 10 days in jail on Thursday after a Cleveland Municipal Court jury found him guilty last month of a third DUI. His license will remain suspended until 2015 from his arrest in March after he left a night club in downtown Cleveland.
But the Black east side councilman will not begin his sentence until Sept. 25, 15 days after the Sept 10 non-partisan primary election for Cleveland City Council. He served 10 days in 2008 for a second DUI but did no jail time for the first occurrence.
Visiting former Willoughby, Ohio judge Larry Allen, whom Republican Ohio Supreme Court Chief Justice Maureen O'Connor personally handpicked out of Lake County to hear the case after the original judge, Cleveland Judge Pinkey Carr, refused it, actually gave the councilman 180 days yesterday, but the judge suspended 90 of them. The other 80 days, which are aside from the 10 days, will kick in, for the post part, if Reed does not stay clean and comply with the law for the next two months as he wears an alcohol monitoring bracelet.
The city lawmaker faced 10 days to six months in jail, and a $350 fine.
"I do have a problem and I am going to do everything I can to show the judge that I am getting help," said Reed in an interview after the verdict with Cleveland Urban News.Com, Ohio's most read online Black newspaper.
Among those at the sentencing were Cleveland Ward 8 Councilman Jeff Johnson and a group of Cleveland area Black clergy, including Greater Love Missionary Baptist Church Bishop Eugene Ward.
Reed, 51, did not take the stand in his own defense at trial. His lawyer, Jeffrey Saffold, said during a press conference after the sentencing that Allen was fair and that Reed got a sentence commensurate to what is the norm in Ohio for a third DUI.
Activists want sitting judges on Ohio trial court civil and criminal cases that are at all times selected at random in multi-judge courts like the majority Black Cleveland Municipal Court, and the largely White 34-member Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas, a general division court led by Administrative and Presiding Judge Nancy Fuerst. (Editor's Note: There are 13 judges on the Cleveland Municipal Court, including Housing Court Judge Ray Pianca, who actually runs a separate housing court).
Community activists said that though Allen was allegedly fair because the media were watching him, that most visiting judges handpicked by Justice O'Connor violate the law and harass people, data show.
One of nine Black council persons on the 19- seat Cleveland City Council, Reed represents parts of the impoverished predominantly Black Mount Pleasant and Kinsman neighborhoods on Cleveland's largely Black east side. He has been on city council about a decade and a quarter.
Next year, however, city council will be reduced to 17 seats pursuant to the November election this year and a voter adopted charter amendment pushed by Reed's foe, city council president Martin Sweeney, a west side White councilman whom Reed supporters say is out to destroy him.