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Cuyahoga County public defender's office says juries are tainted by the jury commission against Blacks....Activists seek an FBI investigation and a consent decree for court reforms between the county and the US DOJ and want the public defender fired

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Staff investigative article by and, Ohio's Black digital news leader

CLEVELAND, Ohio-Cuyahoga County juries that decide guilt or innocence in felony cases presided over by common pleas judges at the Justice Center in downtown Cleveland are often tainted against Blacks, according to the county public defender's office that is now led by Chief Public Defender Cullen Sweeney, a wannabe common pleas judge who lost an election for judge in 2012.

Sweeney replaced former chief county public defender Mark Stanton, who was hired  by the county despite representing  police unions in excessive force prosecutions of cops who arbitrarily shoot and kill Black people with impunity. Stanton retired after only a few years in the job with sources saying he tired of the red tape and rampant court and prosecutorial malfeasance.

Assistant county public defender Scott Rodger Hurley, also a wannabe judge who lost a bid for a municipal court seat, sought a change of venue in one case involving a maliciously prosecuted Black defendant targeted by White cops and then county prosecutor Tim McGinty. He wrote in the motion before Common Pleas Judge Nancy Margaret Russo that he later disregarded that his Black client would be the victim of jury tampering.

The motion is telling with Hurley saying that the Cuyahoga County Jury Commission of the Common Pleas Court taints jury pools and victimizes Black defendants, and that its actions and those of county prosecutors "cast a pall on every corner of court proceedings."

Such motion in the case is coupled with a companion motion for a special prosecutor in place of County Prosecutor Mike O'Malley. It says that O'Malley's office perpetuates retaliation against Blacks targeted by  police and former county prosecutor TIm McGinty, whom he ousted from office via an election in 2016 with the support of activists, Black leaders and the county Democratic party.

O'Malley's office, Hurley says in the unprecedented motion, represents a countervailing concern of impropriety. That motion was also disregarded by Hurley, after questionable activity.

Hurley met privately and ex parte with Judge Nancy Russo, which is unethical under the Ohio Lawyer's Professional Code of Conduct on his part and the Judicial Code of Conduct relative to the judge. He then began colluding with her to disenfranchise his Black client by refusing to do discovery in the case to introduce as evidence for trial, including perjured county grand jury testimony by a corrupt and since retired White cop, Dale Orians.

He did this even after Nancy Russo had granted a motion to compel discovery by Hurley filed by the prosecution. She (the judge) then attempted to proceed to trial without any discovery whatsoever done on behalf of the defendant and was adamant about it until she came under community scrutiny and was exposed to the Ohio Supreme Court.

Although she has until January 2027 in her current term, last month she lost a bid for the judicial seat left open by the Ohio Supreme Court misconduct suspension of former judge Daniel Gaul to Carl Mazzone. Activists, the Plain Dealer Newspaper and her own county Democratic party panned her candidacy and campaigned against her both publicly and privately by word of mouth.

Hurley had been appointed by Judge Nancy Russo as indigent counsel in the case but lacked the guts to go the long haul in representing his Black client. She ultimately removed herself from the case, following a petition for a writ of prohibition filed against her with the Ohio Supreme Court and  protests by community activists.

A new judge in the tortured case, Judge Nancy Fuerst, was handpicked to replace her by then chief common pleas judge John Russo. The assignment, no doubt, is in violation of the random draw mandate for assignments of judges in multi-judge trial courts in Ohio under the Ohio Rules of Superintendence.

When Hurley entered Fuerst's courtroom during a pretrial in the case that was filled with activists after she had removed him as indigent counsel for the Black defendant at issue via a journal entry, Judge Fuerst yelled at him, saying "No, get out of my courtroom."

Fuerst went on to harass the Black activist defendant in the case by issuing an unconstitutional gag order in an attempt to silence free speech and activism, and ultimately denying indigent counsel when the case got hot. Her actions also reveal tampering with records to get around the speedy trial mandate, and covering up indictment fixing by the county prosecutor's office and the county clerk of courts office.

Hurley had also said in a motion filed in a case that county prosecutors, with the assistance of common pleas court clerks, are taking original indictments involving White cops and  Black defendants, and illegally upping the criminal charges not supported by the grand jury without going back to the grand jury for an amended indictment. Simply put, they are re-typing and forging aspects of the original indictments, and getting a fake grand jury foreman to sign them as if they were original indictments.

Activists, in turn, filed a citizen's criminal complaint against Judge Fuerst, seeking a criminal prosecution by the city of Cleveland for denying Blacks their Civil Rights, falsification, and tampering with records, a felony crime under Ohio law.

It remains pending before the city's Black chief prosecutor, with county prosecutors bragging that O"Malley has the influence to stop any such prosecution and activists prepared to file a petition for a writ of mandamus with the Ohio Supreme Court that seeks a probable cause prosecution of the seasoned, intemperate judge.

The county's public defender's office now says that when White common pleas judges deny Blacks indigent counsel, regardless of the reason, it will support them over poor Blacks with support from county officials like county Executive Chris Ronayne and the 11-member county council. Ronayne refuses to intervene, even upon requests from activists and Black victims of the impropriety,

Sources say that when some common pleas judges in the county adjourn criminal trials on Friday to recommence on Monday it is sometimes allegedly done to give prosecutors and other culprits the opportunity to attempt to manipulate select jury members over the weekend to vote to convict innocent Black defendants.

This, say activists, is the height of public corruption and racism against the Black community.

Activists say they select common pleas judges, mainly privileged White judges pushed by White men, are corrupting the offices of the county public defender and county prosecutor and that the malfeasance is out of hand.

This, say sources, makes it all the more important that targeted and indigent Blacks are supplied indigent counsel before and during trial.

The 6th Amendment gives indigent people the right to indigent counsel and state law in Ohio requires that the county supply indigent defendants, including Blacks, with appointed counsel at all stages of the proceedings following an arrest or summons after an indictment, and certainly at arraignment.

Not one legal authority in Ohio, whether applicable case law or a court rule, gives common pleas judges and county public defenders the authority to deny people deemed indigent by the court indigent counsel.

Judges, county public defenders, and prosecutors are ruining the lives of Black people without consequences, sources say, and public records research reveals.

All of it, say activists, is evidence that common pleas court felony proceedings in the largely White, 34-member general division court are detrimental to the fair administration of justice and the county's Black community, including Black juveniles tried as adults in mass.

For chief county public defender Cullen Sweeney to refuse indigent counsel to Blacks for corrupt and racist White common pleas judges is serious enough to demand that the county fire him, activists say, not to mention the high rate in which poor Blacks that his office represents are routinely convicted in cases and disproportionately imprisoned via ineffective assistance of counsel and corrupt judges and prosecutors.

Suspended former judge Daniel Gaul actually forced a Black, male defendant to plead guilty to murder, according to the Ohio Supreme Court's Office of Disciplinary Counsel. And after a county jury found another Black defendant not guilty of murder he continued to say on record that the man is a murderer.

The extent to which some of the judges hate Blacks is astronomical, sources say.

Greater Cleveland community activists and other criminal justice reform advocates continue to call for an extensive FBI investigation and a federal-court-monitored consent decree for common pleas court reforms between the county and the Department of Justice (DOJ) under U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland.

This is a continuing investigation by Ohio's Black digital news leader of Cuyahoga County public corruption, racism and genocide against the Black community and, the most read Black digital newspaper in Ohio and in the Midwest, and the most read independent digital news in Ohio. Tel: (216) 659-0473. Email: We interviewed former president Barack Obama one-on-one when he was campaigning for president. As to the Obama interview. CLICK HERE TO READ THE ENTIRE ARTICLE AT CLEVELAND URBAN NEWS.COM, OHIO'S LEADER IN BLACK DIGITAL NEWS.


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