Monday, May 17, 2010

More hearings scheduled for indicted Wildlife Division officials

A hearing held this afternoon for several indicted Ohio Division of Wildlife officials has led to at least one more judicial meeting in Brown County Common Pleas Court.

This next hearing is scheduled for 1 p.m., June 18 and will explore what's called the Garrity Rule. This legal term protects - broadly - a civil servant's Fifth Amendment rights against self incrimination when making comments during an investigation if that individual feels threatened with job loss if he doesn't speak.

The attorney representing indicted Wildlife Division chief David Graham filed court documents supporting applying the Garrity rule for the official.

However, Brown County prosecutor Jessica A. Little contends that this rule does not apply to Graham or to a number of the other indicated agency officials.

The June 18 hearing is to determine if the Garrity rule applies in at least Graham's case, Little said today.

"If it does apply then the judge will ask for evidence supporting my position and for another hearing. It's better this way because if the Garrity rule does not apply then we don't have to go further with the question," Little said.

Little said she accepted having the burden of proof on whether to go forward regarding the Garrity question.

"I said I didn't care," Little said.

Little said also she expects up to a five-day jury trial if the matter goes that far. That is because of the issue's legal complexities, the large number of expected witnesses and the voluminous amount of evidence with at least 43 exhibits.

However, former five-term Ashland County prosecutor and now retired practicing attorney Robert DeSanto believes that no crime has been committed.

DeSanto is following the case and was recommended by Graham's attorney Gary A. Rosenheoffer for comment and analysis.

"When I see the law stretched to this point that tells me one of two things has happened. Either there is an ulterior motive or else someone wants a trophy to hang on the wall," DeSanto said.

"It took me about an hour and one-half to come to understand the charges that were brought (but) I didn't see how any crime was committed, even if you believe everything the (Ohio Inspector General) says. You have to stretch the law, split legal hairs and cobble up a crime in order to figure out how the grand jury acted. This is a mountain out of a molehill; absolutely," DeSanto said

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

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