Saturday, January 24, 2015

Blacks denied indigent counsel in Cleveland Heights, Bedford and Berea courts in cases of alleged police and judicial harassment, and with support by Cleveland NAACP officials, the judges there will then issue warrants with excessive bonds up to $50,000 if the defendants refuse to represent themselves at hearings and at trial, the Cleveland NAACP is under investigation by the national headquarters

Cleveland Heights Municipal Court Judge A. Deane Buchanan
Berea Municipal Court Judge Mark Comstock
Former Bedford Municipal Court judge and convicted criminal and alleged pimp Harry Jacob

Not pictured. Bedford Municipal Court Judge Brian Melling

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 Kathy Wray Coleman is  a community activist and 21- year investigative journalist who trained for 17 years at the Call and Post Newspaper in Cleveland, Ohio. ( / (

CLEVELAND, Ohio- As the U.S. Department of Justice, under the leadership of Attorney General Eric Holder, prepares to negotiate a consent decree with the city of Cleveland following an investigation that reveals systemic problems in the Cleveland Police Department, from excessive force issues to Blacks and others getting illegally tasered and pistol whipped by cops, suburban police departments of Cleveland are harassing Blacks in large numbers and denying some indigent Blacks counsel in cities such as Bedford, Berea and Cleveland Heights. And Black leaders and the Cleveland NAACP are supporting the unconstitutional activity, data show.

Further, the denial of counsel is in cases in which the Blacks at issue have complained of malicious prosecution, police harassment and racial profiling

The right to counsel to indigent people facing jail time if convicted in criminal cases falls under the U.S. Constitution for felony cases and under the Ohio Rules of Criminal Procedure for misdemeanor cases. Municipal court judges in Ohio hear traffic and misdemeanor cases, and civil cases with damages sought at or below $15,000.

A Cleveland Urban News.Com investigation reveals that in both the Bedford and Berea courts, Blacks are initially given counsel but when some of them refuse to plead guilty the judges there, and elsewhere, from Brian Melling in Bedford, to Mark Comstock in  Berea, and visiting judges sent down by Ohio Supreme Court Chief Justice Maureen O'Connor, have the attorneys withdraw. Subsequently, illegal warrants are issued if the defendants refuse to represent themselves. Another judge in Bedford, Harry Jacob, who has resigned as judge and and was sentence of 60 days in jail  last October following convictions on a host of crimes, including  manipulation of court records and solicitation, also denied indigent Blacks counsel. And Jacob actually kidnapped and threatened some of them in court after dismissing their attorneys from the cases.

"We can deny indigent people counsel and we have the support of Black leaders and the Cleveland NAACP," said Tom Day, the Clerk of Court in Bedford.

According to court records, the Blacks denied such counsel are getting excessive bond amounts that are as high as $22,000 in Bedford, and $50,000 in Berea, just because they refuse to represent themselves at hearings and at trial

Data also show that the Cleveland NAACP has refused requests by Blacks for the Civil Rights organization to intervene and demand that the Blacks at issue are assigned counsel. Cleveland NAACP affiliates are allegedly participating in the corruption, often calling on their judicial friends to pursue malicious prosecutions of Blacks that stand up against racism, police brutality and public corruption.

The Cleveland NAACP, led by chapter president the Rev Hilton Smith, is currently under investigation by the national headquarters after a takeover of the local branch following gross impropriety, including illegalities with what would have been an election of branch officers last year.

Cleveland Heights Municipal Court Judge A. Deane Buchanan, who is Black and an ally of Cleveland NAACP affiliates, is denying indigent Blacks counsel, and then issuing warrants if they refuse to attend hearings without counsel with orders to lift the warrants if they pay a certain amount of money. Thereafter, he has his Clerk of Court, Sandra Berry, to personally phone the defendants to say that if they show up in court alone for a hearing, he might rule on their motions for indigent counsel.

Those Blacks denied indigent counsel in Cleveland Heights are often Blacks that have complained of police misconduct by White cops and malfeasance in what they say are malicious prosecutions, the investigation reveals.

Asked why Buchanan is denying indigent counsel to his own people while handing counsel freely to indigent Whites, and in situations where if the indigent Blacks are arrested on the warrants conflict might arise with police, Berry said that "I do not know."

Bedford, Berea and Cleveland Heights are cities of Cuyahoga County, Ohio's largest county and of which is roughly 29 percent Black. ( / (