Whiskey bottle plea deal garners attention

More than 30 people attended hearing for man prosecutor offered to reduce charges without telling victim
Alex Green
May 19, 2014

Adam Mitchell and Rhonda Taylor do not believe a judge's continuance of the Jeremiah Johnson plea change will be enough to bring about what they want: Justice.

Mitchell was placed in intensive care for three days in February after Jeremiah Johnson, 25, struck him in the head with a whiskey bottle.

Both Mitchell and Taylor, his mother, were in court Monday to express their displeasure with a plea deal offered to Johnson last week by Ottawa County Prosecutor Mark Mulligan.

They've been livid over it since it gave Johnson the chance to plead guilty to one fourth-degree felony with a maximum prison sentence of 18 months.

Taylor has been most unhappy with the prosecutor's office's unwillingness to hear her side, and with the office's alleged oversight of Johnson's violent history.

"He got out of jail recently for hitting a man in the head with a gun," Taylor said recently.

Ottawa County assistant prosecutor Joe Gerber said the prosecutor's office has in fact consulted with Mitchell, Taylor, and spoken to Port Clinton police Detective Corbin Carpenter over the plea deal.

"They talked with us but only after (the deal was offered)," Taylor said.

"What's the point of that?" Mitchell added.

The two don't exactly view this as being "consulted".

Mulligan's office, including Gerber, refuses to communicate with the Register about this case or a few other high-profile cases.

Gerber again declined comment Monday, when he said he did not appreciate the tone of questions being asked him.

Gerber was asked if he disputes what Mitchell, Taylor and Carpenter are saying, and if he has a duty to communicate with the public since he is a public servant.

He declined to respond.

Among questions asked without a reply: Where is Mark Mulligan?

The county's highest paid employee has not responded to questions about Johnson or McClain Durst, a 25-year-old repeat sex offender who was recently given a misdemeanor charge for his role in an alleged January rape.

Gerber said he is the man to talk to about felony cases from the prosecutor's office, though he declined to talk about Johnson's case.

Detective Carpenter has joined Mitchell and Taylor in their strong opposition of the plea deal for Johnson.

"The judicial system has failed this family," Carpenter said recently. "(Mulligan) didn't consult me, he didn't consult the family."

Carpenter also said Gerber contacted him only after the plea deal was offered.

Ottawa County Common Pleas Judge Bruce Winters said he could not speak about this case specifically because it is ongoing, so he spoke in generalities about a judge's power in plea agreements.

"Generally, there are judges who say no (a judge can't stop a plea deal), others say they will," Winters said after the hearing. "I just don't think it's appropriate."

He said the system is designed so that the prosecutor's office is responsible with gathering and studying evidence while determining specific charges, not the judge.

"There is a separation of powers between the executive and judicial branch and I believe this is where those powers separate," Winters said.

Winters instead attempted to open gateways of communication between all parties involved.

"I believe the victim should be heard by the prosecutor and have an opportunity to know why the case is being handled as it is," Winters said.

The plea change was continued to May 28.

Comments

Babo

There is separation of powers between the executive and judicial branches, but a county prosecutor is an attorney and therefore subject to oversight by the judicial branch. In fact every judge has a duty to the public to ensure the officers of the court (attorneys) appearing before him or her follow the law.

It's encouraging that Judge Winters tried to improve communications between the Prosecutor and the victim and his family by continuing the change of plea hearing. However, it's important to note that Judge Winters has to be aware that Prosecutor Mulligan has violated his duties under the ORC (broken the law) because he stated he believes it is important for the victim to be heard by the prosecutor and he knows the victim was not heard prior to the plea offer. IMO, that's a violation of the Code of Attorney conduct and Judge Winters has a duty to report it.

Therefore, it's disappointing that Judge Winters claims he would not stop a plea deal for a repeat violent offender on parole that arose through violation of the law he has sworn to uphold.

DickTracey

Having said that, ...Winters knows that Mulligan is BFF with Redfern, and that creates a really bad triangle, within the libtards of Ottawa County. One in which Winters has lost at before, and has paid the price. So Winters is between a rock and a hard spot. I actually give him credit for commenting on this.

I really give Detective Carpenter credit for speaking out. More LE in Ottawa County need to follow suit so that the public is aware of Mulligan's wrong doings. Most are afraid to speak out because of the repercussions.

Peninsula Pundit

Y'know,Dick, you make a valid point but reduce the impact terribly by using hackneyed phrases. Like a smart kid who says 'like' or 'actually' way too often.
No one ran against Mulligan last election.
It looks like the only way to get him out is to disbar or indict him.
I hope one or the other happens soon.
His drug task force was caught perjuring themselves in a court of law and nothing has been done about that.
How does this guy remain in office?

DickTracey

And you Pen, answered your own question, before you asked it. How has he remained in office? Because nobody runs against him.

My schoolgirl tone, laced throughout my comment, was because I was describing a grown man that acts like a petulant child!

Mulligan not talking to the press is immature at best.

I also think Redfern and Mulligan are acting like schoolhouse bullies, as they gang up on a 19 year old boy, and at times, Winters.

My only guess is that in school, they were both unathletic, unattractive, scrawny little nerds that got bullied, so now that they think they are in a postion of power, it's payback time.

Babo

Judge Winters is a cousin to Mark Mulligan. If you check Lorrain Croy's website (endorsed by Redfern over the Democratic incumbent Judge Winters) you will find Mulligan and Clerk of Court Gary Kohli are the only two prominent D's who have not endorsed her.

There was some major fall out in about 2012 (about the time former Sheriff Bratton was exposed by the Auditor of State as a thief) in the Clerk's office because the former Clerk of Court Jennifer Wilkins was pushed out by the party in favor of Gary Kohli, an Oak Harbor attorney and friend to Mulligan and Co. Wilkins is now very active in Croy's campaign.

It was during this same approximate time frame that Judge Winters fired Croy as his magistrate for dishonesty and lack of loyalty to the court. Also during this same time period Judge Winters sentenced Chris Redfern's nephew Zachary Redfern to prison for burglary after giving him several chances to clean up his act.

Zachary is the son of Peter Redfern (brother to Chris) and Anne Goode of Oak Harbor. Goode was indicted for trying to run drugs into Zachary at Toledo Correctional Institution last year. Peter Redfern was alleged by relatives of Anne Goode to have molested a 15 year old male student of Oak Harbor schools back in 2001-2002 and the school system where Croy's husband is employed and Mulligan allegedly helped cover it up.

I think the federal case of former Sheriff Robert Bratton (sentencing 5/22 in US District Court) is an important key to the entire story. Chris Redfern with his contacts to the White House (and therefore the USDOJ) as head of the D party in Ohio may know what is coming down and is trying to protect himself with a new courthouse judge and staff.

My feeling is Mulligan is in the USDOJ crosshairs and Redfern is setting Mulligan and Judge Winters up, leaving him to replace the courthouse with loyalists

Julie R.

All this corruption going on with these clowns read like something right out of a John Grisham novel ...... only it's not fiction.

Babo

LOL, actually it is "Legal Fiction"

Les fictions naissent de la loi, et non la loi des fictions. Fictions arise from the law, and not law from fictions.

SamAdams

Yes, there are separate branches of government. But those separate branches are specifically set up to provide checks and balances! That means that, if one branch gets out of hand, another branch is able to "check" it. In this case, that's where Judge Winters can use his authority under the Judicial Branch to slam the brakes on a bad deal engineered by the Executive Branch.

If there are no checks and balances, then the systems aren't separate at all and everybody can do pretty much as they please. You know, sort of like Mr. Mulligan already does.

Gunholdjr

You armchair lawyers are funny!

DickTracey

The elusive, sulking prosecutor speaks.

"It was communicated through the victim's advocate through the victim's mother that the victim wanted to get the case over with." Ottawa County Prosecutor Mark Mulligan. (News Herald)

He blames the victim. As is tradition.

Babo

Yes, I read that too. His "victim's advocate" has a horrible reputation and obviously lied and Mulligan used that lie to advance his agenda. So now there is proof that the prosecutor's office through its staff violated victim's rights and the ORC in failing to communicate with the victim and his family prior to the offer of the plea deal.

The victim and his family have plenty of reasons to be upset. The deal offered to Johnson is for a F-4 (down two degrees from felonious assault) meaning he will receive a maximum of 18 months in prison as opposed to the five years Johnson received for pistol whipping another victim, an F3.

According the NH, Johnson will also receive almost 2.5 years for the parole violation for the first conviction. Thus, Johnson will do 7.5 years for the first crime but only 1.5 years for the second at least as serious if not more serious crime.

IMO, the plea deal should be for an F3 not an F4 so that Johnson can be sentenced up to 5 years for this crime as he was for the first one.

Babo

Well this is disturbing ...the NH ran a story interviewing other police agencies in Ottawa County about Detective Carpenter's complaints about the prosecutor's office and lack of communication with plea deals. It reads like a public relations piece for Mulligan and of course is written by Kristina Smith the "Watchdog" reporter. http://www.portclintonnewsherald...

The "Watchdog" never seems to catch Mulligan in a lie unlike a commentator on the companion story. http://www.portclintonnewsherald...

reggiewhite92

She interviews all cops in that story! Det. Carpenter is especially bold for calling out Mulligan's office. It's not like the others also have the cojones to also call him out. Why not talk to the victims, Ms. Watchdog, instead of the inner-circle mates who seem to like her just as much.