Monday, November 5, 2007

And the 11/5 Recount Hearing Said?....

This morning's take about what would happen in court today (The Recount Trial Resumes?) regarding the '04 recount convictions of two former BOE officials is pretty much what happened, except for a few points, some of them majorly important.

• I arrived at about 9:10am for the 9am call for witnesses. I was told that the judge was not there yet. She appeared at about 10:10am.

• As noted in the earlier post below, nothing even appeared on the online court docket for this hearing. Very few, even those waiting for the other shoe to drop somewhere, knew about the hearing, also curious. I found out only because some I know had been subpoenaed as witnesses for 9am today.

• Also the fact that the hearing took place the day before a major election could also be considered very curious by some, well-planned by others.

• "No Contest" and "No Finding" - The two women did plead "no-contest" to the previously convicted 4th degree felonious and first degree misdemeanor mishandling of '04 recount ballots. Also today the defense asked that the judge make "no finding" on that pleading this morning.

Per the PD article posted at the bottom of this post, you will see that now, the previous, jury-found guilty verdict from early this year, which brought the18 month prison sentence, is as of today's "no contest" plea, with no finding, now being portrayed by the defense, as those ladies taking no responsibility since they did done nothing wrong.

That is saying that, as established at the earlier trial, their pre-selecting the only ballots that '04 recount witnesses could see, and even laying aside precincts they did not want witnesses to see, thus in a planned, not random, fashion, not allowing recount witnesses to see the vast majority of all the ballots that potentially could have had much wrong with them - was nothing wrong. The defense said, that was because it was "a long time practice," though the Prosecutor, reminded him, though it was attempted, that fact had never been proved in the earlier trial.

However, as has been reported by Ohio 2004 election researcher Richard Hayes Phillips, from over two years of research, findings and photographing across Ohio, he found such things as 2004 punch cards in primarily Democratic precincts, with an extra hole punched, always in the same place in the presidential race - discounting all those presidential votes as "overvotes." (The actual voter's punch would have in most cases made the discounting second punched choice for president.) The potential for Cuyahoga recount witnesses for not finding this kind of inside manipulation, should it have existed, or other types also found across Ohio, especially amidst the now infamous actions of Cuyahoga's now fired previous board, and their "executives" is far too huge to assume in Cuyahoga we got any adequate sample or valid recount.

Yet recount witnesses then legally asked for, and paid for a valid recount.

In Cuyahoga alone, above and beyond the over $100,000 salaries of previous Director Vu (reported as a person of questionable competence, ethics and integrity ( -Section 7) and now moved to San Diego's BOE, making $130,000/year) and then-Deputy Director Dillingham, both of whom had been demanded by some members of the board to leave at least twice before they were allowed to resign... with exit pay, and both of whom it is hard to imagine did not at least fully know about this recount mishandling; and above and beyond the millions taxpayers pay for actual elections fairly handled, the volunteers also paid another over $14,000 and spent days training and volunteering for just for a fair chance to see what all went wrong in the'04 election via at least a fair recount.

Similar evidence of '04 election and recount manipulations have been found all over Ohio. One county's recount was stopped early on because Mr. Blackwell, Bush's co-campaign manager in Ohio, declared ballots not to be public information; another had a Homeland Security Alert which the neither the FBI nor Homeland Security ever heard of; and on....

Some of these Ohio recount incidents, and more recently, the finding that the majority of Ohio's 88 boards threw away large portions of their '04 election data well before the legal retention period and despite a court order to keep them so '04 election research could continue- if nothing else, to be learned and handled in a protective way for '08, which it has not been - has only allowed such election injustices to continue.

• The 6 month Diversion Program and Their Records Are Expunged - And beyond the no-contest plea with no finding, the lawyers also had previously agreed that at today's hearing, these two women, Maiden and Dreamer would be put on a "Diversion Program," for six months, instead of proceeding with an appeals trial or going to jail.

The defense a few times in the earlier trial asked for the charges to be dismissed. That was denied each time by the previous judge, Judge Peter Corrigan. The defense had at one point after the sentencing to jail, called for the new trial based upon his claims of new evidence. The Prosecutor insisted there was no new evidence, and again, on and on...

Now this.

Apparently this last week's lawyers' agreement for a Diversion program is a far better deal for these election officials whom the jury found guilty - besides not going through a new trial and still having the prospect of jail hanging over their heads, or even just having to hope for a really easy probation officer.

At first glance, this Diversion just sounds like the latter an easy, short probation. But a little bit of research shows that the Diversion Program also allows for much more - their entire record to be expunged at the end of their 6-month, minimum time, program - as long as they're good. And who wouldn't be.

For a bit more info about Diversion see

It says in part:
"Diversion and Early Intervention Programs (EIP)
These programs are for first time offenders. Diversion is for non-violent and non-drug related offenses and Early Intervention Programs (EIP) is for first time drug related offenses.

These programs are utilized to hold the offender responsible for their criminal conduct and place them in a supervised program. The goal is reestablish the offender in the community without a felony record after the successful completion of a number of requirements such as, but not limited to:
• Admitting to the crime
• Regularly reporting to a probation officer
• Completing community service
• Undergoing drug testing
• Paying all restitution to victims
• Paying all court costs

After successful completion of the program, which lasts from 6 months to 1 year, the offender’s record is expunged.
The Unit not only handles the largest volume but the widest range of cases. Cases include,
but are not limited to, the below listed offenses in the Ohio Revised Code: Offenses Against Person/Property

Attempted Murder

Aggravated Robbery


Felonious Assault

Domestic Violence

Aggravated Arson


Breaking & Entering

Drug Possession

Illegal Processing of Drug Documents

Grand Theft Motor Vehicle

Receiving Stolen Property

Identity Theft


Passing Bad Checks

Insurance Fraud

Criminal Simulation

Drug Trafficking

Illegal Assembly or Possession of Chemicals for the Manufacture of Drugs
Failure to Comply w/ Order or Signal of Police Officer





Tampering with Records

Obstructing Justice


Illegal Manufacture of Drugs or cultivation of marijuana
Carry Concealed Weapons

Having Weapons While under Disability

Improperly Discharging Firearm at or into habitation or school

Improperly Handling Firearms in a Motor Vehicle

Unlawful Possession of Dangerous Ordnance

Deception to Obtain Dangerous Drugs

Permitting Drug Abuse

• What will be expected of them for the 6 months? We have no idea. The Defense reported today that Cuyahoga County program has agreed to oversight it....
Most with whom I've spoken, imagine the absolute least, with the women living at home in their normal daily lives, and reporting in. Will they even be asked to repay the recount monies contributors handed to the CCBOE for a fair recount per the restitution suggested above?

• And today's PD reported (see article below) that the defense also is now even starting to push for taxpayers to also pay their enormous legal fees for this end-run no justice to the voters of Cuyahoga.

In March, 07 the lawyer for the Rosie Grier who got acquitted at the earlier trial, Mr. Dominic Vinantonio came to the Cuyahoga Board and with a letter addressed to the Board/Bob Bennett, then-Chairperson, that referred to an earlier letter signed by Bob Bennett, (the latter letter to be uploaded soon) asking for Vinantonio's legal fees to be paid by the taxpayers because his client had been found innocent.

At that March board meeting, that board agreed to recommend that payment from the County taxpayer coffers. (That seemingly also gave Mr. Bennett the idea, when he sued to try to keep his job, when the SoS released him early this year, to have taxpayers pay his legal fees too.)

The letter said in part:

Also see (and to better see the above exerpt from the above linked letter):

My understanding, however, is that Assistant County Prosecutor, Dave Lambert wrote an opinion in response to that request, and denied such payment. I have not confirmed whether payment was tendered or not.

Now,the other defense lawyers are trying for the same thing. (?Expungement= innocence?)
And don't forget, we also paid for the Prosecutor too - by default.

Now, expungement could even allow Maiden and Dreamer back into election work.

In 6 months, we may or may not see where the "rubber" of politics may "hit the road " in our new board - so far excellent and extremely non-partisan. Will the two R-members suddenly demonstrate themselves to be more beholdin' to their GOP friends, Bennett and both defense attorneys, than to the people? We can only hope and insist not.

• So in short, now the "no contesting" women, with "no finding," are after "Diversion," due back in Court on 5/27, apparently to see how they "Diversioned"/allowed themselves to be somehow "monitored" for 6 months, and for expungement.

That is the "politics" of Cuyahoga and election justice.

One of the few very brightly shining spots since March however, for a touch of local light, breath and maybe even hope, has been the excellent performance of the new Director and Board to date.

• Here is the PD article from today.

Elections board workers take plea deal
Posted by
Jim Nichols
November 05, 2007

Categories: Crime, Impact

A special prosecutor ended a two-year drive to convict two county elections workers for rigging a ballot recount during the hotly contested 2004 presidential election.
In a plea deal announced this morning, prosecutors let the two women take probation without admitting any wrongdoing.
Jacqueline Maiden, the board's third-ranking staff member, and middle manager Kathleen Dreamer each pleaded no contest to negligent misconduct and failure to perform official duties during that November general election. The charges are, respectively, a felony and a misdemeanor, punishable by up to 18 months in prison.
That's exactly the sentence Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Judge Peter Corrigan imposed last March after a jury convicted Maiden, 60, and Dreamer, 41, of those same charges. But Ohio Chief Justice Thomas Moyer ordered that another judge hear the defendants' argument for a new trial because Corrrigan appeared biased toward the prosecution.
The upshot of that: Common Pleas Judge Shirley Strickland Saffold ordered a new trial, which was to begin on Monday.
Instead, the three-year-old case withered away.
Typically, after a no-contest plea, a judge finds a defendant guilty or not guilty. But under the plea deal's terms, Saffold made no finding. If the women don't break any laws during their six-month probationary period, the case against them will close, and they can have their records wiped clean.
Despite that, Baxter said he is satisfied and vindicated. The no-contest plea, he said, is an affirmation that the prosecution's facts and allegations are correct, Baxter said.
"As a prosecutor, you're looking for a fair resolution, not necessarily just a conviction," said Baxter, who is the Erie County prosecutor. "The bottom line that we still say today is that the recount was manipulated. We still believe that. But at the end of the day, these two ladies took some responsibility for their actions."
Dreamer, 41, and Maiden, 60, declined to comment afterward. But Dreamer's attorney, Roger Synenberg, emphasized that the defendants absolutely did not take any responsibility.
"If that had been a condition of this plea, we would've gone to trial," Synenberg said. "They're not accepting responsibility because they didn't do anything wrong.
"That might be Kevin's spin on this, but that's not the way it was."
Synenberg also said he will press the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections to pay his "substantial" legal fee.
"The board said it would pay if there was no finding of guilt," he said. "Well, there is no finding of guilt."
At issue was how the board and its staff conducted a sample recount of ballots after third-party candidates demanded a countywide vote recount. That sampling was meant as a test of the validity of tabulating machines; if a hand count of the sample - 3 percent of the county's votes - proved the machine count accurate, the board could assume the broader automatic tabulation was also accurate and forego a tedious, expensive and potentially embarrassing hand recount of all 600,000-plus votes.
The board staff rigged the sample count because the precincts actually were secretly selected in advance of the closely watched recount, said Baxter, who was brought in to try the case because Mason is the board's lawyer. The pre-count ensured the 3-percent sample included only precincts whose hand and machine counts matched.
Dreamer, Maiden and a third worker, Rosie Grier, were charged for the fudging. They countered that the board had always done things that way - with the knowledge of its attorney, one of Mason's assistants.
"There was no evidence to that effect - none," Baxter said.
He faulted the media for spreading that "convenient misrepresentation," and for falsely portraying the board managers as low-level employees. Such media portrayals, and a string of editorials in The Plain Dealer that blasted the prosecution as an "overreach, weakened the prosecution's moral foundation by persuasively misrepresenting the case's facts," Baxter said.


Posted by DKMcClurkin on 11/05/07 at 12:21PM

Wait just a minute! Mason's office approved this not-according-to-O.R.C. sampling rig, so these ladies are excused? Maybe it's time to bring Mr. Mason up on charges. I was a witness to the so-called recount and heard the announcement first-hand that the precincts had been selected "not-quite-randomly" in order to be "representative."
It's clear to me that these women were pushed out in front to take a rap for something the Chairman and Director contrived to hide reality. My concerns are: 1) What did they want to hide - the unreliability of the secretly coded electronic machines? 2) Why did they do this - to mask the fact of greater votes for the Democrat vs the Republican" 3) Did they know something the public did not - that Cuyahoga County was being much watched nationally and they didn't want the embarrassment of the truth?
Smoke? Yes. Fire? YES.

Posted by BelloStronzo on 11/05/07 at 1:14PM
The Board of Elections manages elections and counts/certifies the votes. Here we have Elected Judges. Elected Supreme Court Justices. Elected County Prosecutors. Everyone is pushing this quietly under the rug. Nothing happened. Everything's OK. No one's to blame. It was all a mistake.
Anyone else smell something rotten?

Posted by BastaPasta on 11/05/07 at 1:35PM
The corruption continues. Admitting they were wrong means Bush may not have been President. The questions were raised in 2004 why the election problems where the worst in majority black neighborhoods of Cleveland and Columbus and the liberal college town near Kenyon University. Here we are today saying something wasn't right but we're not going to push the issue. Disgusting.

Posted by steds5150 on 11/05/07 at 1:55PM
I am now officially disenfranchised. Why bother voting when it doesn't count?

Posted by mypinion on 11/05/07 at 3:38PM
If Judge and I use that term losely Stickland-Saffold had anything to do with this corruption was a definite that is one evil human being.

The PD article is Copyright 2007

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