by James McNair
Judge allows convicted student to withdraw his plea, then seals case again
The case of a
former Miami University student who pleaded guilty to disorderly
conduct for posting a “Top Ten Ways to Get Away with Rape” flier in a
dormitory bathroom just keeps getting more controversial.The
controversy began Nov. 8, when Butler County Area 1 Court Judge Robert
Lyons took the guilty plea and ordered all record of the case —
including the defendant’s name — sealed from public view. The MU police
chief says he is bound by Lyons’ order and can’t release the name. The
Butler County Prosecuting Attorney’s office did not object to the
sealing of the file.The Cincinnati Enquirer
entered the picture six days later. It sued Lyons in the Ohio Supreme
Court, saying he sealed the file without giving the newspaper a chance
to argue for public access. In his answer — filed by the Prosecuting
Attorney’s office on Dec. 13 — Lyons stood by his actions. Furthermore,
he wrote that “there was no plea” in the case.Now we know
where that came from. On that very same day, the case was back in Lyons
court for reconsideration. This time, prosecutors agreed to drop the
charge, and Lyons ruled it so. And, once again, he sealed the file, and
no one present objected. The Enquirer reported on the dismissal Wednesday.Prosecuting
Attorney Mike Gmoser won’t say why he agreed to dropping the charge
until the Supreme Court case is over. “Save that question, and I will
give you a full and detailed statement,” he told CityBeat. “I don’t try cases in the press.”Gmoser said he is asking the Supreme Court to dismiss the Enquirer’s suit because the issue at hand is “moot.”
0 Comments · Wednesday, December 19, 2012
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.
by James McNair
Lawyer denies a plea occurred, contradicting previous explanation
County judge who granted the anonymity of a former Miami University
student convicted of posting a rape tips list on campus is standing by
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.
0 Comments · Wednesday, December 12, 2012
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.
by German Lopez
Parking privatization deal reached, rape flier case could be unsealed, casino revenue drops
The city of Cincinnati and its largest city employees union have reached a deal
regarding the privatization of the city’s parking assets. Under the
deal’s terms, the city will give raises and not lay off anyone for three
years, but only if the city’s parking assets are privatized. However,
the head of a Clifton community group is still not happy with the privatization plan. He says the plan is bad for business because it limits the amount of affordable parking in the area. But would laying off 344 city employees be better for business?
The identity of the Miami University student who put up
the infamous “Top Ten Ways to Get Away with Rape” flier may soon be revealed. The Ohio Supreme Court
will decide by Dec. 14 whether the case should be unsealed and open to public view. Robert Lyons, the Butler County part-time judge who sealed the case, has faced scrutiny in the past few months for conflicts of interest regarding drinking-and-driving cases.
Revenue from casinos in Toledo and Cleveland is dropping. The numbers paint a bad picture for Cincinnati and Hamilton County officials expecting budget problems to be solved by casino revenue.
A proposal mandating drug testing for welfare recipients in Ohio resurfaced last week. Republican legislators claim the requirement will save the state money, but a similar proposal in Florida added to budget woes as the state was forced to pay for drug tests.
Ohio’s ultra-wealthy population is growing.
About 1,330 Ohioans are worth $30 million or more, an increase of 2
percent since 2011, according to a report from Wealth-X. The news could
shape Gov. John Kasich’s plan to cut the income tax using revenue from a
higher oil-and-gas severance tax, perhaps encouraging state officials to make
the cut more progressive.
Gov. Kasich is ending the practice
of giving so many tax credits to keep businesses in Ohio. The move could
potentially cost the state jobs as businesses move to other areas with
bigger, better incentives, but state officials and the business community don’t seem too worried for now.
If the Ohio government agencies were forced to cut their budgets by 10 percent, the results would not be pretty. The Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction
would have to close prisons, and the Ohio Department of Natural
Resources would have a tougher time enforcing new regulations on
Ohio’s exotic animal law is facing a challenge in federal court
today. Exotic animal owners claim the law violates their First
Amendment and property rights by forcing them to join private
associations and give up their animals without compensation. They also
do not like the provision that requires microchips be implanted into the
animals. The Humane Society of the United States is defending the law,
which was passed after a man released 56 exotic animals and killed himself in 2011.
An Ohio court said a business tax on fuel sales must be used on road projects.
Ohio gas prices are still dropping.
The cure for leukemia could be a modified version of the AIDS virus.
by James McNair
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.”
0 Comments · Wednesday, October 31, 2012
SUNDAY OCT. 28: Many people who read today’s Enquirer
endorsement of Mitt Romney for president likely set the paper down,
said something like “I need to move out of this [expletive] city” and
then googled “Jobs where newspapers don’t endorse Sarah Palin.”
1 Comment · Wednesday, October 17, 2012
Miami University is a sick, sick campus in desperate need
of the largest group therapy session ever recorded, top-rung leadership
more palpably concerned with student safety and a less corporate
approach to media relations.
by German Lopez
Duke Energy told city officials to OK an operating deal
for the streetcar before trying to talk costs. The fighting words are in the
middle of an ongoing feud between city officials and Duke Energy about
who will move utility lines and pipes to accommodate the streetcar.
The operating details will help Duke know what “unbreakable rules” about
maintenance and emergency repairs exist and where the streetcar will go,
according to the company’s spokesperson. CityBeat previously covered the streetcar issue and all the pettiness from Duke here.
A suspended frat is suing Miami University. The frat was
suspended after a fireworks battle led to the discovery of illegal
substances in the frat. The frat claims the university improperly
suspended it, damaged its business and property, and made libelous
allegations out of “malice, hatred and ill will.” The frat says it
shouldn’t have been suspended without a written complaint, but Miami's spokesperson said the university is allowed to suspend
students without a written complaint if there is a pending
investigation.Ohio will soon begin tying college funding to graduation rates. If only that was done with e-schools.Equality Ohio announced Columbus, Ohio made a step forward
in LGBT rights yesterday. It is now among the few cities in Ohio to
have a domestic partner registry, which allows same-sex couples to
legally declare their relationships without marriage or civil unions.
Toledo, Cleveland, Athens and Dayton also have registries.Secretary of State Jon Husted wrote a “guest column” on his own website defending early voting rules in Ohio. Republicans are facing criticism over bringing racial politics and poor arguments into the early voting debate.Ohio’s unemployed will soon get a little less help from the
federal government, according to the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services.
Ohio’s rapidly falling unemployment rate has triggered a second
reduction in the amount of aid the unemployed can get. Before April
2012, unemployed Ohioans were eligible for 99 weeks of benefits. The eligible weeks dropped to 73 weeks in April
and will drop to 63 weeks starting in September. However, the benefits are set to expire in December if the federal government doesn't act, and that would push the eligible weeks down to 26 weeks. Ohio's unemployment rate is currently 7.2 percent, down from 10.6 percent at the height of the recession.
The University of Cincinnati’s new interim president just got a nice raise.The state texting-while-driving ban goes into effect tomorrow.
Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio made his speech at the Republican
national convention yesterday. In the speech, he criticized President
Barack Obama for the current state of the economy. In return, Democrats criticized
Portman for his budget work for former President George W. Bush,
whose administration is widely blamed for the current economic crisis.It seems like Paul Ryan spent a lot of time lying in his
speech at the Republican national convention yesterday. The vice
presidential candidate blamed Obama for an auto plant closing
that closed before Obama was president. It seems Ryan is getting
on-board with the Romney-Mandel plan of running on dishonesty.
Cincinnati is the top hot dog city, according to a new
survey. The survey says 7.3 percent of Cincinnati restaurant menus have hot dog options, making it the city with the most accessible hot dogs.Space sugars have been found around a young star.
by Andy Brownfield
Posted In: News
at 03:27 PM | Permalink
Phi Kappa Tau claims university unconstitutionally suspended it
UPDATE: 5:11 p.m. Updated with comment from Miami University spokeswoman.A Miami University fraternity that was suspended after an
alleged fireworks battle led to police finding drugs when executing a
search warrant has filed a lawsuit with the frat demanding $10 million
from the university.
The Phi Kappa Tau chapter at Miami university alleges in
their lawsuit that university officials improperly suspended the
fraternity, damaged its business and property and made libelous
allegations out of “malice, hatred and ill will.”
The frat is suing for compensation as well as $10 million
in punitive damages and attorneys fees. The Tuesday court filing
demanded a trial by jury.
The fraternity was suspended after members of the Phi
Kappa Tau and Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternities allegedly threw lit
fireworks between their two frat houses.
When Oxford police officers tried to investigate, students
refused to let them into the houses without warrants. So the police got
According to the filing, inside the Phi Kappa Tau house police found fireworks, a baggy of marijuana and two pipes.
The lawsuit alleges that the university improperly
suspended the fraternity because it did so in the absence of any written
complaint. It claims that there are no police complaints or charges as
of the lawsuit’s filing.
The suit also alleges that the university recklessly made
false statements damaging the reputation of the fraternity and causing
some of its members “severe emotional distress.”
Miami University spokeswoman Claire Wagner declined to comment on the lawsuit. However, she said the school's student code allows the Dean of Students or a designee to issue a summary suspension without a written complaint if there is a pending investigation. She said the university, as well as Oxford fire and police, are investigating the incident.