► Cleveland Plain Dealer - 04/29/05 - State justices want critic to pay for complaints Print E-mail

Cleveland Plain Dealer

State justices want critic to pay for complaints
Friday, April 29, 2005
T.C. Brown
Plain Dealer Bureau
Columbus- Weary of the complaints filed against them, Ohio judges are going after the wallet of self-described judicial watchdog David Palmer.
Attorneys for three Ohio Supreme Court justices asked the Ohio Elections Commission on Thursday to award them more than $8,000 in fees and legal costs and to rule that Palmer's complaints are frivolous.
In a testy, three-hour hearing before the commission, watched over by two undercover State Highway Patrol officers, Palmer said that:
Chief Justice Thomas Moyer since 1992 has improperly accepted more than $16,000 in campaign contributions from retired, visiting judges whom he appoints to hear cases.
Justice Terrence O'Donnell improperly used $14,000 in campaign money last year for legal defense in a criminal complaint.
Justice Alice Robie Resnick misrepresented a $3,500 campaign fund expenditure for membership in the National Association of Women Judges.
In unanimous votes, the commission decided to continue a preliminary review of the Moyer case, and it ruled no violation in O'Donnell's case. Palmer, who is not an attorney, dropped his complaint against Resnick.
The commission delayed deciding Moyer's case so Palmer could respond to Moyer's attorney, Donald Brey, who asked for a dismissal and wants the complaint declared frivolous. Brey seeks more than $4,000 in fees and other legal costs.
Palmer said visiting judges, who are paid partially or fully by the state, are state employees who are barred from contributing to Moyer. Brey argued that a three-judge disciplinary panel already had rejected that complaint filed by Palmer last year. Phil Richter, the commission's executive director, recommended a finding of no violation.
Palmer said O'Donnell improperly spent campaign money for legal defense and then listed the reason for the expenditure with four question marks. O'Donnell's attorney, Chris Slagle, said a prosecutor dismissed the complaint Palmer filed in Franklin County Municipal Court last year.
Palmer had accused O'Donnell of misusing a state car to officiate at the Mansfield Speedway.
"Apparently tossing a flag at Mansfield Speedway is an official duty," Palmer told commissioners. "What's next, judging the Miss Nude America contest? He was out there trolling for votes."
The commission accepted Richter's recommendation of no violation. It will decide next month on awarding unspecified fees to Slagle.
Commissioners initially indicated Palmer could not drop his complaint against Resnick so that Resnick's attorney, Don McTigue, could seek more than $4,000 in fees and costs from Palmer. A hasty examination of the law changed their minds, but they will consider the issue of fees next month.
Palmer dropped the complaint after learning Thursday that Resnick bought a lifetime membership in the association and donated money to the group, though the donated money was not listed as such on the campaign record.
All three justices, who were not at the hearing, declined to comment Thursday.

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