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Jay Milano Attorney and Counselor at Law
The following is an excerpt from an opinion piece published at cleveland.com on on January 31, 2016.
The “truthful plea agreements” editorial published on cleveland.com Jan. 11 highlighted a real problem in criminal justice.
How do you handle a case when both sides fear that they will lose? What if a defendant maintains his innocence, but faces a trial that may cost him his freedom — for life? What if a prosecutor has a credible accusation — but not enough evidence?
Over the years, judges and lawyers have invented a way to cope. They invented a fiction.
Continue reading at at cleveland.com »
[teaser]Dear Friends and Colleagues,
This is an important election coming for Cleveland and Cuyahoga County. We will be conducting a contested election for a new county prosecutor for the first time in our lifetimes. Given all that we have seen in the past two years, unfathomable corruption, and a justice system so inbred that it has mutated beyond recognition, we need to pay very close attention. So, given that I have spent my whole life in that system, please allow me to impose upon you my opinion of who is best qualified to be our next prosecutor. [/teaser]
In my opinion,
In order to understand how justice works in our county, you need to understand our history.
Our entire county, not just the courts, was dominated from the 1950’s until the 1980’s by John T. Corrigan. He was not always right, and his office got out of control as he got older, but he was a good man.
Ironically, he and my father fought cases with mutual respect for years and ended up in the Sandusky Veteran’s home together, both enduring Alzheimer’s, neither able to recognize the other.
During that time judges routinely came from the prosecutor’s office. It was a strategy. If any judge fell into disfavor, an assistant was there to contest the election. We also began the bizarre custom of electing Judges by last name (usually Irish, not that there is anything wrong with that) rather than an examination of their qualifications. John T loomed over it all.
Stephanie Tubbs Jones followed John T and the Justice Center lived in the Pax Stephanie. It was a time of reasoned and reasonable conflict.
Draw your own conclusions about Mr. Mason and what has happened to the County in recent years. But, in my opinion, we should all be ashamed of the job we let him do. It was almost like a Saturday Night Live Skit, with county cronies carrying out the furniture while the elected county prosecutor gave press conferences talking about how tough he was on crime.
What is most true to me about Cuyahoga County Criminal Justice is that it has evolved so far into its own world, it has become so ingrown, that it is a system in need of complete overhaul. We need a thoughtful approach to problem solving unencumbered by the past.
Now we have five Democrat candidates. Whoever wins the upcoming primary will no doubt be the next prosecutor. This is Cuyahoga County and the chance of a Republican taking this position is so slim that none have yet filed.
So, in my opinion-
Subodh Chandra is the most thoughtful, and the best prepared of these candidates. He is well educated (Stanford, Yale Law), a former Law Director of the City of Cleveland, and a former assistant US attorney. His experience matches or exceeds all of the others. He is also a Justice Center outsider. Most important to me about his experience is the US attorney component. The Justice Department operates under strict rules for its prosecutors, built with checks and balances. On the other hand, in Cuyahoga County we have operated in a system so loose that almost anyone could have jumped on and taken it for a ride. The Tiki Hut and Hooker trial that will go on until after this election provides a clear view of how the county has operated. The only misleading aspect is that it appears what Dimora did was “small potatoes” compared to Russo looting the county property taxes for the benefit of his friends.
It is time for us, we here in Cuyahoga County, to look hard for an exceptional candidate to fill a difficult and complex job. To my mind, Subodh Chandra gives us the best chance to rebuild Criminal Justice in Cuyahoga County. That is surely something we need to do.