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Judge Explains Rape Flier Case Sealing in Deposition

0 Comments · Wednesday, January 23, 2013
If the adverse publicity from pleading guilty to a minor crime — say indecent exposure or public intoxication — is likely to cause you mental anguish, pray that you go before a judge like Robert Lyons in Oxford.    
by James McNair 01.18.2013
at 05:46 PM | Permalink | Comments (2)
 
 
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Judge Explains Rape Flier Case Sealing in Deposition

Cites concern for defendant's mental health, says sealings are common in "college town"

If the adverse publicity from pleading guilty to a minor crime — say indecent exposure or public intoxication — is likely to cause you mental anguish, pray that you go before a judge like Robert Lyons in Oxford. Lyons is the Butler County judge who took the guilty plea from the former Miami University student who posted the “Top Ten Ways to Get Away with Rape” flier in a dormitory bathroom. Lyons sealed the file in November, shielding the young man’s name from public view. Facing an Ohio Supreme Court challenge from the Cincinnati Enquirer, the judge dropped the disorderly conduct rap a month later and sealed the case again. Lyons recounts those events in a deposition taken by Enquirer lawyer Jack Greiner Jan. 15. (Download the full deposition by clicking here.) For starters, he swears he doesn’t remember the defendant’s name, even “if I was tortured.” And here’s why he locked away the case file and kept the Miami U. administration and campus police from disclosing his name: “What I remember about him is that there was certainly concern about his, say, his mental health and there were grounds stated on the record for the necessity of sealing the record. It had to do with his — probably as I recall, more so mental well-being than anything else.” The student wasn’t the first, nor the last, to be convicted of a crime in Lyons’ courtroom as leave as John Doe. As the part-time judge said under oath, “This is a college town. Record sealings, you know, I would say if I do 10 record sealings in a week, that is not many.”Lyons is represented by Butler County Prosecuting Attorney Mike Gmoser, who originally prosecuted John Doe, convicting him of disorderly conduct. Gmoser has asked the Supreme Court to dismiss the case against Lyons. The Enquirer has other ideas. In a new pleading Friday, the paper says Lyons improperly dismissed the conviction without a statutorily necessary finding of “manifest injustice.” It wants to amend its lawsuit, while sticking with its contention that, in Ohio, judges must do a document-by-document review and conduct a public hearing before sealing case records.
 
 
by James McNair 12.14.2012
Posted In: News, Women's Health, Courts at 03:37 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
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Judge Who Sealed Miami Rape Flier Case Defends Decision

Lawyer denies a plea occurred, contradicting previous explanation

The Butler County judge who granted the anonymity of a former Miami University student convicted of posting a rape tips list on campus is standing by his decision. Area 1 Court Judge Robert Lyons ordered all case records sealed Nov. 8 after the student pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct and agreed to pay an undisclosed fine. Six days later the Cincinnati Enquirer sued Lyons in the Ohio Supreme Court, arguing that the case file is a public record. Lyons, represented by Butler County Prosecuting Attorney Mike Gmoser, filed his answer Thursday. He denied violating the Enquirer’s claim of a constitutional right to a hearing where it could have argued against secrecy. That Lyons is standing his ground comes as no surprise, but his answer contains one head-scratching statement. He — that is, Gmoser — wrote that “there was no plea” in the case. Yet in a first-person account of the case in the Miami University Student on Nov. 8, Gmoser wrote that the defendant pleaded guilty. The court’s own schedule for Nov. 8 says the case was up for the entry of a guilty plea.
 
 
by James McNair 12.10.2012
Posted In: Courts, Women's Health, News at 09:19 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
mu rape flier

Court Might Reveal Identity of Miami Rape Flier Author

Ohio Supreme Court has until Dec. 14 to consider settlement over sealing of case

The sealing of a criminal court case involving a former Miami University student who posted a “Top Ten Ways to Get Away with Rape” flier in a freshman dormitory now has the presiding judge defending his decision to the Ohio Supreme Court. And he’s doing it with the help of the Butler County prosecutor who endorsed the secrecy. Robert Lyons, whose part-time job as the judge for Butler County Area I Court supplements his income as a practicing attorney, took the student’s guilty plea to disorderly conduct on Nov. 8. At the request of the young man’s lawyer, Dennis Deters, the judge ordered the case file and all printed references to the defendant’s name sealed from public view. The order extended to paperwork generated by the Miami University Police Department. In effect, other than the press coverage it received, all record that the crime was committed and the perpetrator was brought to justice doesn’t exist. Six days later, the Cincinnati Enquirer filed suit against Lyons with the Ohio Supreme Court. It said Lyons erred by issuing a “blanket” seal of the case. It said he failed to “find by clear and convincing evidence that the presumption of public access is outweighed by a higher interest” and further failed to conduct a hearing where the Enquirer could argue for public access. The Enquirer didn't mention in its initial report on the plea deal an intent to sue over the sealing, and to date it hasn’t reported on its own lawsuit.  Lyons was given until Dec. 14 to file an answer. What’s weird is that Lyons is represented by Butler County’s Prosecuting Attorney, Mike Gmoser. In Ohio, the county prosecutor serves as legal counsel for county government, county agencies and school districts — and represents them in court — as standard practice. As a private practitioner, though, Lyons specializes in defending people accused of drunken driving. Guess who sits at the opposing counsel’s table in those cases? Yes, Gmoser’s deputy prosecutors. Lyons’ unusual role as defender and decider of DWI cases drew umbrage from Gmoser in March. According to the Hamilton Journal-News, Lyons the judge was about to rule on a motion to disallow the results of an Intoxilyzer 8000 blood-alcohol testing device in a DWI case. Lyons the lawyer, meanwhile, had challenged the validity of the machine in other cases, and his firm ran seminars about its failings. At Gmoser’s request, a higher court judge in July ordered Lyons to step down from hearing 10 pending DWI cases. Last Thursday, in his initial response to the Enquirer’s lawsuit to open the rape tipster’s court file, Lyons hinted at the possibility of not fighting the suit. He asked to have until Dec. 14 to file a full response “so as to give settlement discussions an opportunity to come to fruition.”
 
 

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