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Corruption in the Courts

Posted on September 22, 2010 at 10:37 AM

While some may find it difficult to believe that innocent people can be convicted when they’re “nobodies” like my husband and me, maybe it’ll be easier to fathom two judges taken into custody and indicted on corruption charges instead. The problems with the justice system are vast and wide-spread. Education is the first step to fixing it.

Judges Bridget McCafferty and Steven Terry plead not guilty to their charges, which – combined - include making false statements, committing mail fraud, and/or accepting bribes. McCafferty is also accused of giving “’special consideration’ to cases that would benefit (the commissioners, Dimora and Russo, already indicted on charges of corruption)”. [1, 2] Terry is additionally accused of “conspiring with (a former commissioner, Russo) to resolve a…lawsuit.” [2]


I hear cries from all over (e.g. the MBA of Cleveland, bloggers and other judges) to remember the presumption of innocence and I can’t help but scoff. [1]  When is the general public afforded such courtesy or right?


Meanwhile, the judges have defense counsel and a PR machine working over-time, especially given that McCafferty was/is running for reelection this November. [1, 2]

The FBI has recorded conversations as part of its evidence against these judges, but I’ll go along with the presumption of innocence if only because it’s what I believe is right and good and healthy for a community that is beleaguered right now with corruption scandals and arrests. I’ll save my derision for Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Mason, whom I believe and hope charges will eventually stick to as well, given the way the stink is blowing in Cleveland.

It seems I'm not the only one who feels this way.  Dan Roth, a Cleveland attorney, wrote an opinion piece on the 29th of September:

 

"Mason should move on

 

"Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Bill Mason's Sept. 21 letter to the editor does not solve the public perception problem he now faces.  When Mason is out campaigning, he uses every opportunity to refer to himself as the chief law enforcement officer for the county.  He has done a fine job convincing the public of this fact.

 

"Now, he has been caught up in the midst of the county corruption debacle, and his public image has been tarnished.  His visible connections to the rogues' gallery of public officials, public employees and local business people now under federal indictment or investigation are overwhelming.  In the public interest, Mason must promptly resign." [3]

 

* Update July 14, 2011:


Former Judge Bridget McCafferty was found guilty on 10 counts of her charges after a week-long trial in March.  [4]  She is presently appealing.  Appeals at this stage are typically based on court error or procedural errors.  She is requesting  new trial to admit evidence to the jury about Russo's medications for anxiety.  [5]

Former Judge Steven Terry was also found guilty on 3 of his charges back in June. [6]  Terry was on leave but intended to resign his position.

I have since met friends of Russo after initially posting this particular blog and I must express my sympathy to those persons who trusted and believed in someone who let them down, their disgrace publicized in such a splashy way.   I certainly have had experience with having a friend let me down and the sense of betrayal is real.  But those are the consequences of befriending fallible humans, it seems.  After all, now everyone else can be secure in their idealistic belief that they have been rescued from scourges of evil yet again by the "justice" system... 



References:


[1] WEWS News Staff. (2010). Cuyahoga County Judges Bridge McCafferty, Steven Terry Plead Not Guilty: Twist for one judge arrested.  Retrieved 9/22/2010 from  http://www.newsnet5.com  


[2] McCarty, J.F. (2010). Two Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court Judges Among Those Indicted in County Corruption Probe. The Plain Dealer. Wednesday, September 15, 2010. 


[3] Roth, D.  (2010).  Mason Should Move On.  The Plain Dealer.  Wednesday, September 29, 2010.  A11.


[4] Krouse, P. (2011).  Former judge Bridget McCafferty is found guilty on 10 counts of lying to the FBI.  Retrieved July 14, 2011 from http://www.cleveland.com/countyincrisis/index.ssf/2011/03/former_judge_bridget_mccaffert_1.html


[5] McCarty, J.F.  (2011).  Ex-Cuyahoga County Judge Bridget McCafferty seeks new trial; says jury should have known of Frank Russo's anxiety problems.  Retrieved July 14, 2011 from http://blog.cleveland.com/metro/2011/07/ex-judge_bridget_mccafferty_se.html


[6] Waterhouse, M.  (2011).  Cuyahoga County Judge Steven Terry found guilty of mail fraud in corruption case.  Retrieved July 14, 2011 from http://www.newsnet5.com/dpp/news/political/corruption_probe/cuyahoga-county-judge-steven-terry-found-guilty-of-mail-fraud-in-corruption-case

Categories: Problems in Justice System

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