Thursday, February 2, 2012

Pre-trial date for Wildlife Division defendants; new legal wrinkle in case

Brown County Prosecutor Jessica A. Little says that a pre-trial hearing for the five indicted former and current Ohio Division of Wildlife officials is set for 1 p.m., March 12.

At this hearing, Little says, she hopes that progress can be made toward setting an actual trial date.

However, that goal may not be reached, at least not any time soon.

Little says that she’s aware that the defendants’ attorneys have filed what’s called “a motion to certify a conflict” with Ohio’s 12th District Court of Appeals.

The argument is that the recent decision by the 12th District Court favoring an argument by Little is in conflict with a similar one that the Ohio 6th District Court of Appeals ruled on in 2009.

“The state Supreme Court wants uniformity in the various appellate courts, but I disagree that there is a conflict,” Little said. “I don’t think it will go up on this certification of conflict but there is potential for it to go to what’s called a ‘discretionary appeal,’ and I wouldn’t be surprised if the Supreme Did accepted it since this is a matter of great public interest.”

Little said also that she’s not comfortable commenting on the Ohio Department of Natural Resources' decision last week to place the remaining three employed Wildlife Division employees on unpaid administrative leave and then the subsequent retirement Wednesday of one of them - law enforcement administrator James Lehman.

“Whatever is done should be done in the best interests of the taxpayers,” Little said.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn
Twitter: @Fieldkorn


  1. The best interest of the taxpayers would be served by removing Little from Office. Her ill advised decision to bring charges in this $106 matter will soon cost the taxpayers of Ohio over $500,000.

  2. Would you also be the first to jump on the bandwagon if she didn't press charges - i.e. public officials are above the law - and she's part of the good ole boy system?

    500K? I am sure the this is costing more than $106 to come to a conclusion, but would you please elaborate on where you come up with 500K? That seems unreasonably high to me.

  3. This case has already cost over the $500000. This case isn't about anyone being above the law, it is about Brown County politics. Ask this blogger why he has not written about the previous administration admitting that they were told, therefore making this case ridiculous.

  4. To the second anonymous comment..... No one is above the law and from what I have read on this case, there is no basis to continue wasting the money of brown county. As a brown county citizen, I am organizing a bandwagon for removal of the person who is costing our county ridiculous amounts of money.

  5. Again, an extraordinary figure, yet without any facts to back it up. Please tell me how you arrive at 500,000. To put it into perspective, $500,000 would require approximately 10,000 hours of the Prosecutor's time. That means she would have to work on this case, and this case only, for 5 years, every hour of every day of every week. Based on the case, I'd be surprised she has 50 hours into it. That's a far cry from 10,000.

    Perhaps you want to include the time spent by the court. How many hearings? 3? 4? Do those hearings cost 100,000 each time?

    Perhaps you want to include the ODNR salaries while they were on paid administrative leave. I have seen no mention where ODNR hired other people to take their places while on leave. That money was going to be spent regardless of this case, and shouldn't be included in what the case is costing.

    Please provide a breakdown of your 500,000; otherwise I'll just assume you are making it up.

  6. I am not the one stating the amount spent is $500,000, but regardless you have missed the point of this completely!!! Even if the dollar amount spent so far is "only" $50 to $100 has to stop!! The prosecutor is costing brown county money that we simply don't have!! She must be removed come election day. Then and only then maybe she will see that the citizens of brown county think enough is enough!

  7. we have gone from 500K to 50K. Fair enough.

    Of course, I notice you don't actually break down how you arrived at 50K. Just pull it out of the air?

    You realize 50K would be over 1000 hours of the prosecutor's time? That's 6 months working on this case full time, every hour of every day of every week of every month. Again, if she has more 50 hours into this, I'd be surprised.

    Is 10K too much? 5K? 2K?

    You may be on to something, though. Let's not prosecute any cases in the county - we'd save lots of money then. We could disband the court and save salaries there. And there'd be no need for a sheriff. Just think of the money we'd save.

    If she prosecutes it, she's spending too much money - if she doesn't then you would be after here for being part of the good ole boy system, where some people are above the law.

    Please itemize the 50-100K for me - otherwise I'll just assume you pulled it out of thin air.

  8. The cost of the case is running high because the administrators were put out on paid leave, and once they are acquitted, each of them will be able to recover the cost of their attorney fees from the state. You can certainly debate over the manner in which the case was handled internally by ODNR. However, to bring criminal felony charges against the administrators was insane! There was no criminal intent or huge cover-up by the administrators. The administrators were faced with the challenge of applying a rule promulated in 2008 against conduct that occurred in 2006. Further, the rule that was promulgated was that ODNR employees were prohibited from taking professional courtesy from other states in the form of free hunting permits (see Inspector General's Exhibits, Letter dated March 14, 2008 at The rule didn't say anything about providing courtesy to others. While a certain amount of common sense should prevail, it was unlikely that ODNR could overcome just cause standards in a labor arbitration had they fired the employee. Therefore, the administrators chose a path to recover the lost license fee and gave the employee a written reprimand that could not be appealed to arbitration. It would have been easier for the Administrators to discipline the employee more harshly without the 2008 letter. Retroactive application of a rule is a certain loser in arbitration, and the matter was further complicated by a host of past practices and constitutional "garity" concerns. The investigator from the inspector general's office didn't have a clue about either the labor or constitutional implications of his finding. Total costs to the state will easily hit a half million before this case concludes over $106 in license fees.