Looks like the battle between the Akron Bar Association, Akron Beacon Journal and reporter Phil Trexler is ending with a whimper.
The Bar Association wanted the newspaper and Trexler held in contempt for not testifying in it's investigation of local attorney Larry Shenise, who claimed he missed a hearing in Judge Paul Gallagher's court because he hadn't been notified. Gallagher was upset enough to file a complaint against Shenise, and the Bar Association wanted to force Trexler to testify beyond the quotes from Shenise in a story Trexler wrote. When Trexler and the paper refused, the lawyer's group sought a contempt ruling.
The newspaper and Trexler pushed back and the case went to the Ohio Supreme Court. In a ruling posted on the court's website today, justices denied the contempt motion from the Akron Bar Association and further quashed any other motions in the case.
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(Ohio Supreme Court) In Akron Bar Assn. v. Shenise, the court granted relator’s motion to dismiss the notice of appeal of the Beacon Journal Publishing Company and Phil Trexler, denied relator’s motion to hold Trexler in contempt, denied a request for a hearing by the Beacon and Trexler, and dismissed the case.
The Akron Beacon Journal and reporter Phil Trexler find themselves on the wrong side of a split Ohio Supreme Court decision -- over whether an Akron attorney was or wasn't misquoted when he complained he didn't get notice of a hearing.
The legal wrangling started when local attorney Larry Shenise told the newspaper he never got notice of a hearing from the court of Judge Paul Gallagher in a case that led to his 80-year old client being threatened with jail time. Judge Gallagher was upset with Shenise's comments and filed a complaint with the Akron Bar Association. The Bar's committee investigating the complaint wanted Trexler to testify to Shenise's comments published in the paper, comments Shenise claimed were misquotes. Both Trexler and the newspaper refused to testify, leading the Bar Association to file for a contempt hearing from the Ohio Supreme Court.
The court sided with the Bar Association in a 4-3 ruling published Friday ordering the newspaper and Trexler to file arguments within five days on why they should not be held in contempt for refusing to testify.
The Akron Bar Association is getting political by setting up a committee to review complaints and ask judicial candidates to sign a pledge to run a clean campaign.
Jack Weisensell, president of the Akron Bar Association, tells the Beacon Journal that the purpose of the Judicial Campaign Conduct Committee is to deter negative campaigning and to make sure campaigns are fair and honest.
Judicial campaigns are hot items and can get pretty negative. Municipal judges in Akron recently have made headlines over cases lately, including the resignation of one magistrate.
On the web: www.ohio.com
The Akron Bar Association requests Copley Police documents involving an Akron municipal court public defender.
AkronNewsNow.com reported on Tuesday that Catherine Loya, a public defender, would be re-assigned following a Feb. 5 police report from Copley that indicated she refused a breathalyzer test when found in a car with Akron Municipal Court Judge Joy Oldfield. A Copley police officer reported the vehicle smelled of alcohol.
The Beacon Journal reports police documents regarding the incident are now in the hands of the Akron Bar. Any investigation by the association would be a private manner and findings could eventually be passed on to the Ohio Supreme Court.
On Tuesday, City Prosecutor Doug Powley questioned a potential conflict on reports from the Beacon Journal that stated Oldfield provided a ride to work for Loya following the incident. Loya lost her license to drive pending a citation for physical control of a vehicle and refusing the test.
Powley says he has reviewed the allegations with his courtroom prosecutor and has been assured that there has been "no adverse results" during the time that Judge Oldfield served in the courtroom.
The newspaper reports Oldfield's attorney admits she had been drinking that night, but John Hill says she was not drunk. He told the Beacon Journal on Sunday that the judge is "dumbfounded and incredibly upset" by the report, and there is "no unusual or inappropriate relationship" with Loya.