Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Ohio Supreme Court Justice Judith French is endorsed by greater Cleveland activists over Cuyahoga County Judge John P. O'Donnell, data show that O'Donnell is corrupt, anti-Black and stole homes via illegal foreclosures for JPMorgan Chase Bank, others, the Cleveland NAACP took testimony around O'Donnell's documented theft of homes and fraud, O'Donnell leads his colleagues in refusing to dismiss criminal cases for a lack of evidence, a Cleveland Plain Dealer Newspaper investigation reveals, and most of the defendants are Black

Pictured is Ohio Supreme Court Justice Judith French, whom greater Cleveland community activists have endorsed for the November general election over Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas Judge John O'Donnell. A Call and Post Newspaper and Cleveland Urban News.Com investigation reveals that O'Donnell is corrupt and stole homes of innocent Cuyahoga County residents via illegal foreclosure and mortgage fraud with the help of the county sheriff's office, JPMorgan Chase Bank and its attorney law firms of Bricker and Eckler, Lerner, Sampson and Rothfuss, Riemer and Lorber, and Thompson Hine, and  others. Blacks that complained were jailed in the county, stripped naked and released without charges, a Call and Post investigation and public records reveal.  Community activists say that French is an honest and qualified jurist and should retain her judicial seat. And they want O'Donnell off the bench and indicted by a Cuyahoga County Grand Jury for what they say is multi-million dollar theft of homes in Cuyahoga County, and foreclosure and mortgage fraud, which also includes theft and fraud by some of the other common pleas judges, most of whom are White. The Cleveland NAACP, through its housing committee, which is led by the Rev. Dr. David Hunter, has taken testimony around the theft of homes and fraud. According to a comprehensive investigation by the Cleveland Plain Dealer, Ohio's largest newspaper, O'Donnell, who is White, also leads his judicial colleagues in refusing to dismiss criminal cases for a lack of evidence, and most of the defendants are Black.

By Kathy Wray Coleman, editor-in-chief, Cleveland Urban News. Com and The Cleveland Urban News.Com Blog, Ohio's Most Read Online Black Newspaper and Newspaper Blog Email:editor@clevelandurbannews.com, Tel: (216) 659-0473).  Kathy Wray Coleman is  a community activist and 20 year investigative journalist who trained for 17 years under five different editors at the Call and Post Newspaper, Ohio's most prominent Black print press. (www.clevelandurbannews.com) / (www.kathywraycolemanonlinenewsblog.com)

CLEVELAND, Ohio- Greater Cleveland community activists, led by women activists groups, are endorsing Ohio Supreme Court Justice Judith French for her seat over Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas Judge John P. O'Donnell, whom they say is corrupt and has stolen homes from Cuyahoga County residents via illegal foreclosures and ongoing mortgage fraud. The documented theft by O'Donnell, data show, is with the help of the county sheriff's office, and JPMorgan Chase Bank attorneys of the law firms of Bricker and Eckler, Thompson Hine, Riemer and Lorber and Lerner Sampson and Rothfuss, among others. CLICK HERE TO READ THE ARTICLE OF JUDGE JOHN O'DONNELL'S CORRUPTION AND DOCUMENTED THEFT OF HOMES AT CLEVELAND URBAN NEWS.COM

The seven-member Ohio Supreme Court is all White and has six Republicans, including Chief Justice Maureen O'Connor, and one Democrat, Justice William O'Neil.

The high court already has an O'Donnell on it, Justice Terrence O'Donnell, who is no relation to Judge John O'Donnell.

French of suburban Columbus is the better candidate by far, activists say, and without reservation. 

A Call and Post Newspaper and Cleveland Urban News.Com investigation reveals that O'Donnell's documented theft includes stealing Cuyahoga County homes and handing them to mortgage companies and banks like Chase Bank without a foreclosure filing, and giving the attorneys for the mortgage companies, such as Miranda Hamrick of Lerner, Sampson and Rothfuss, Nelson Reid of Bricker and Eckler and Stephen Williger of Thompson Hine,  and the banks and mortgage companies at issue, the authority to break in people's homes and steal appliances and other belongings,  and cars out of their garages. And again, this is without a foreclosure filing or even an eviction by the county sheriff, data show. Further documented theft involves reducing the values of foreclosed homes for county sheriff's sales in violation of state law so that former homeowners that sometimes are due monies back after the sale get nothing.

Community activists say that O'Donnell, who is White,  has had those that complain jailed in the county and stripped naked without any charges, might be mentally unhinged. 

Community activists have also given testimony by video before the housing committee of the Cleveland NAACP on O'Donnell of Lakewood, Ohio, and some others involved in the county foreclosure and mortgage fraud.

Cuyahoga County is Ohio's largest of 88 counties and has 59 municipalities, villages and townships, including the majority Black major metropolitan city of Cleveland.

This closely watched judicial race is the usual  partisan fight. 

Gov John Kasich appointed French to the Ohio Supreme Court in 2013 to replace Evelyn Lundburg Stratton, who had resigned. French is the Republican candidate, and O'Donnell, a common pleas judge elected to the bench in 2002 who lsot the subsequent election but won in 2006 and 2012, is the Democratic candidate. The Democrats claim that the contest between the two judges is a close race. 

"We can no longer give Democrats that do wrong a free pass," said longtime community activist Ada Averyhart, 80, a member of the Cleveland-based grassroots groups the Carl Stokes Brigade and the Imperial Women Coalition. "We endorse Justice French because she is an honest and qualified jurist, a woman, and the better candidate."

French, 52, wrote the unanimous Supreme Court decision issued some two weeks ago that forced the largely Democratic Maple Heights City Council to place the issue of city traffic cameras before voters in November after residents collected the necessary signatures for certification by the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections and city council then ignored them. Maple Heights is a largely Black small suburb of Cleveland

"She could have stalled until next year on putting the traffic light cameras in Maple Heights before voters, but she and the other judges on that court did not," said a Black greater Cleveland elected official speaking on condition of anonymity. 

Referring to O'Donnell, community activist Amy Hurd said that "why would we support somebody that is accused of stealing people's homes?"

Community activists want O'Donnell indicted by a county grand jury, they say, for documented theft and mortgage fraud. Whether that occurs, remains to be seen.

Community activist Mary Seawright, also a Cleveland real estate entrepreneur, and a member of the Fairfax Business Association in Cleveland, said that activists, Black leaders, and voters in general need to begin to hold politicians accountable, regardless of their partisan status, or race. 

According to an investigation by the Cleveland Plain Dealer Newspaper, Ohio's largest newspaper, O'Donnell is among the top two  judges of the 34-member largely White and largely Democratic Cuyahoga County General Division Common Pleas Court, along with DUI getting county judge Brian Corrigan, whom rarely, if at all, dismiss criminal cases before a jury verdict or bench decision for a lack of evidence. Such dismissals are permitted as a directed verdict under Rule 29 of the Ohio Rules of Criminal Procedure. When these Rule 29 motions for a directed verdict, or dismissal,  are arbitrarily denied they force an innocent defendant to trial, which often results in an erroneous and sometimes unconstitutional guilty verdict, coupled with  subsequent and costly appeals to higher courts. CLICK HERE TO READ THE CLEVELAND PLAIN DEALER NEWSPAPER ARTICLE AT CLEVELAND.COM ON ITS INVESTIGATION OF JUDGES LIKE O'DONNELL AND CORRIGAN WHO REFUSE TO DISMISS CRIMINAL CASES FOR AN ALLEGED LACK OF EVIDENCE WHEN MOST OF THE DEFENDANTS ARE BLACK AND WHEN OTHERS JUDGES SEE FIT TO DISMISS CASES OF A SIMILAR NATURE

Cuyahoga County Judge Nancy Margaret Russo, the PD investigation reveals, is more likely than all of her 33 colleagues, three of them Black, one suspended with pay pending the outcome of felony domestic violence charges, to be fair and dismiss criminal cases for a lack of evidence.

Both O'Donnell and Corrigan, as Democrats, as well as all of the Democratic county judges in a county where their party has a stronghold, rely on the Black vote as Cuyahoga County is roughly 29 percent Black.  Whether they return the favor or not is suspect, data show. 

Blacks are disproportionately prosecuted and sentenced in the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas, a study commissioned by the Cleveland NAACP found, though the study is gaining dust.

French grew up in the small town of Sebring in Mahoning, County. She earned a bachelor's degree in political science, a master's degree in history, and a law degree, all from the Ohio State University. From 2002 to 2004 she was the chief legal counsel to then Gov. Bob Taft. She was a judge on the Ohio Tenth District Court of Appeals in Columbus before her appointment last year to the state's highest court.

She was also a former chief counsel for former Ohio Attorney General Betty Montgomery. As the then chief counsel for the state of Ohio under Taft she argued the state's case before the United States Supreme Court in Whitman v. American Trucking Associations, Inc. (2001), and Zelman v. Simmons-Harris (2002), a landmark case, where the court, 5-4, upheld the constitutionality of a controversial school voucher system in Cleveland, Ohio.

And while not all of the greater Cleveland community activists behind Justice French for the November election support school vouchers,  O'Donnell, they say, should not be on any judicial bench, given his theft of homes from Cuyahoga County residents via illegal foreclosures and documented mortgage fraud. The judge's record of jailing innocent Blacks and others when some of the cases require dismissal for a lack of evidence is further evidence that he is unfit for the bench, activists say.