Time to play the judge feud

“I fired (Redfern’s) close friend, Redfern said he would not support me in the primary. He said through a third party he would use the resources of the Democratic Party against me.”
Alex Green
Mar 6, 2014
Rarely does a terminated employee get the opportunity to oust her former employer.

And yet, this is where Lorrain Croy may find herself in November, when she vies for a spot as Ottawa County Common Pleas Court judge.   

 
She’ll face off against incumbent Judge Bruce Winters, who fired her in 2012 from her position as court magistrate. 
 
Winters, whose term will end in December, announced his re-election bid last week. It was a surprising move to those who thought he would not seek re-election.
 
Perhaps more surprising: Winters, a Democrat, must run as an Independent, since state Rep. Chris Redfern, D- Catawba Island, endorsed Croy for the judgeship.
 
While there’s no disputing which candidate Redfern has endorsed, he and Winters continue to disagree on how Redfern came to support Croy. 
 
Redfern helped Winters win his 2008 election.
 
“I fired (Redfern’s) close friend,” Winters said of Croy. “Redfern said he would not support me in the primary. He said through a third party he would use the resources of the Democratic Party against me.”
 
That said, Winters figured there was no use in running as a Democrat.
 
Redfern said he disagrees with the decision to fire Croy, but even so, it has little to do with endorsing her.
 
Redfern said his endorsement of Croy is a reflection of her abilities and experience.
 
”I think (Croy) would make a great judge with her understanding of criminal and civil law,” Redfern said. “Do I agree with (Winters’ firing of Croy)? No, I don’t. Croy has been an asset to the families I’ve represented in Ottawa County since my days as county commissioner.”
 
The details of Croy’s firing two years ago remain a mystery, and Winters declined shed light on the issue.
 
Croy said she’s unsure exactly why she was fired. ”To this day, I don’t fully understand,” she said.
 
Winters cited Croy’s personnel file, which states she was fired for committing an act of dishonesty to the court and for not working in the best interest of the court.
Winters said he stands by his decision.
 
”Being a judge doesn’t mean decisions are always easy,” he said.
 
His candidacy as an Independent is an obstacle he’ll have to overcome to win re-election. Countless Ottawa County public officials endorsed Croy as speculation swirled that Winters would not seek re-election, leaving few to support the incumbent.
 
For his part, Redfern said his support of Croy was not dependent on his alleged feud with Winters.
 
”(Croy) has embraced the philosophies of the Democratic Party,” Redfern said. “I support her as a Democrat.”
Croy’s early campaign has touted her experience and the respect local leaders have for her, and she has not sharpened her political knife in hopes of exacting revenge, she said.
 
”What matters are the families in Ottawa County,” Croy said. “I have the temperament, experience and respect of others. More than 30 officials, Republican and Democrat, have endorsed me.”
 
Redfern also commended Croy’s temperament, a virtue likely to come in handy over the next eight months.
 
Croy said she was surprised to learn of Winters’ re-election bid, particularly his decision to run as an Independent.
 
”I was expecting a primary,” she said.

Comments

KnuckleDragger

Big surprise there. This how career politicians like Redfern work. If you don't scratch his back, he break yours.

Babo

Redfern does appear to be abusing his office as Democratic Chairman and State Representative to place a judge in power that will answer to him. That should be of enormous concern to everyone especially given his history of abuse of power in the still pending trespassing/burglary case of his vacant home in Ottawa County.

I'm curious as to how Croy and Redfern became such good friends. She was an Ottawa County felony prosecutor before she became an Ottawa County magistrate. It was during her time as Ottawa assistant prosecutor that a serious allegation arose against Mr. Redfern's brother involving a male student in Oak Harbor schools. Croy's husband was an assistant principal at the time in Oak Harbor schools.

Presently, Ms. Croy is the felony prosecutor for Sandusky County Prosecutor Tom Stierwalt. She would likely had some role in that office's deciding not to prosecute Ricky Vitte Jr. for allegedly teaching a 12 year old boy how to masturbate.

Others have posted about her alleged integrity/strong faith. But there are at least two cases that suggest she doesn't believe in equal protection of the law for victims if their alleged abuser has political connections.

reggiewhite92

It's unclear if Redfern abused power. That's what the attorney said. Good point about Croy with Vitte. I'd like to see if she had a role in that

DGMutley

It would be interesting to know what Ms. Croy's views are on Ricky Vitte Jr. In fairness she may be the one responsible in the prosecutor's office for the ongoing investigation if there is one. Maybe the reporter can ask her.

Even better is what Redfern's views are on Ricky Vitte Jr. Certainly he must have been contacted by Ricky Vitte Jr's victim for help in prosecuting Vitte. Maybe the reporter can ask him.

justice_forall2014

Croy was spoken to by the victims mother. She was the first person in the prosecutors office who spoke to the victims mother.

Babo

Thank you for this information as it tends to suggest what I feared: She doesn't care about victims of abuse at the hands of the politically connected.

Bodega

Well, this ought to be interesting! I live in Oak Harbor and I've heard rumors for years about Winters. If it comes down to who has a better reputation, Croy will win hands down. Someone get some popcorn and Rasinettes!

reddog

One of my daughters is friends with a Croy daughter. Good family. Very well respected over here across the bridge. From how I've seen them interact through their children, the whole Croy group appears to be modest and adhere to a faith-driven way of life. It would be nice to see some of those kinds of values in the law system.

KURTje

No matter what party...EGOS RULE!!

holysee

Someone please call Winters a waaahmbulance!
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=...

reggiewhite92

What is he whining about? Did you read the story? He's running as an Independent, that's pretty bold. Most people would have actually called for the "whambulance" and thrown in the towel.

Bodega

The Waaahhhhbulance comment is perfect because it sure sounds like the judge wants people to feel sorry for him. People over here call him a lot of things, but "victim" sure isn't one of them. There's a lot of stuff out there on this creepy guy and some of the wacky stuff he's been doing. It's a big warning sign when EVERY major player in Ottawa County law enforcement backs the person challenging the judge. What do republican AND democrat police chiefs know that we don't?

Babo

Well remember this is a county where four sheriffs in the past 40 years have been indicted by the Feds for public corruption related crimes. The last one, Bratton, is pending sentencing in May. So endorsements by the same police chiefs and law enforcement officers who praised Bratton (also a D) while Sheriff and later Police Chief of Genoa are nothing of which to be proud.

Please note that Croy is endorsed by people like Redfern who have been dependent on the public their entire lives. She looks to me like a big supporter of two standards of justice: one for her political friends and another for the rest of us. For example the Drug Task force in Ottawa County is known to fabricate evidence, has problems with inventory and ignore drug activity for friends; yet nothing happens to them. Members of that Task force endorse Croy.

Don't get me wrong, Judge Winters is not above reproach either. He's had way too cozy a relationship with Prosecutor Mulligan and made some really suspect rulings in cases involving his former political supporters who have now abandoned him for Croy. They may realize the Feds are involved and are bailing hoping to avoid getting caught up in another Ottawa County federal corruption case.

For example, note the prominent Dems who have not endorsed Croy: Prosecutor Mulligan and Clerk of Courts and attorney Gary Kohli. They probably are citing some legal rule that makes it inappropriate for them to endorse. On the other hand, Bratton is probably talking to the Feds and Mulligan and Kohli as well as some Law enforcement officers would be logical targets of a federal investigation involving alleged public and courthouse corruption.

The county is at least ten years overdue for a full blown Federal invest IMO.

Bodega

You do know that Mark Mulligan and Bruce Winters are first cousins, right? And our current Sheriff, Steve Levorchick, is pretty well respected. He doesn't seem to have any tolerance nonsense.

Babo

Yes, I know they are related. Most of Ottawa County government is interrelated or inbred.

I also know that the current Sheriff worked for our former Sheriff Bratton who faces sentencing in Federal Court in May for public corruption. Levorchick had no problem with all the shenanigans that went on during Bratton's tenure including covering up alleged crimes in government offices. He also doesn't seem to have a problem with misconduct in the Ottawa County Drug Task Force including fabricating evidence, perjury, etc.

slightthroat212

what "act of dishonesty" did she supposedly commit that would cause that firing? Isn't that somewhat vague? why was that never specific during her firing? I would think a prosecutor having those charges against them would have had a "SPECIFIC" charge, not one of such open ended comment in their file. Sounds suspicious to me.

This encumbant judge should answer that question before he gets his fingers any dirtier than they appear for that firing. Just my opinion, but that county appears to have many problems in it. Again, just my opinion. No wonder he is whining. I hope she wins this one right out from under him..

DGMutley

Not a team player.

Babo

Not only should he explain his reasons for firing her, he was duty bound to report her alleged dishonesty to the court to the Disciplinary Counsel of the Supreme Court of Ohio under Rules of Conduct governing attorneys and or judges. Lawyers and judges self police themselves and the system requires they report each other's misconduct.

Frankly, I think both candidates leave a lot to be desired and it's going to be a matter of the lesser of two evils. It's going to be a very dirty campaign.

Bodega

Just saw in the Ottawa County Register that the "esteemed" attorney Tom Debacco supports judge Winters. Huh? The con artist supports you, but law enforcement supports your opponent. Sounds like you have some 'splaining to do.

meowmix

Bodega--you speak of "con artist" yet on another article you are supporting Damschroder and his not-so-honest way of retaining his seat by pulling the old switcheroo with his wifeypoo. You are obviously either related to Croy, a republican who hates all democratic incumbents or a person who committed a crime and then did some time thanks to Judge Winters. I, for one, a staunch registered democrat with likewise friends, will be putting my "x" beside his name. Redfern needs to stop pretending he's an Ottawa Co. commissioner again. It's none of his business.

Bodega

I am none of those things. I have kids in the school system where Mr. Croy teaches. It's a pretty small community over here. The people I've talked to have good things to say about the Croy family. But if you claim to be a "staunch democrat" I doubt you'll be voting for Winters becuz county Republicans are the ones helping him with his campaign. I don't know much about Redfern so I don't know how all of that fits and I'm only talking about stuff that I have heard myself. And I don't know anything about Damschroder. I was only commenting that it sure seemed unfair that a technicality could end someone's career. Is he a shiester?

Babo

@ Bodega: One would hope that a judge is neutral and would not favor the state (i.e. politicians, law enforcement and prosecutors) over the people. The defense bar is the only real check against a police state in this country.

The fact politicians and rural and small town LEO's are endorsing Croy so heavily should be a huge red flag to anyone who values the Constitution.

downthemiddle

Redfern: "Croy has embraced the philosophies of the democrat party"

What has that got to do with being a good judge? Doe she rule based on law or politics? Apparently this matters.

The Hero Zone's picture
The Hero Zone

I didn't catch that at first! Good point.

elwoodblues

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elwoodblues

Reddog, how much did Croy pay you to write that comment and exactly how are you related to her? Your basis for your comment that your daughter knows one of her daughters so therefore the whole croy group is a "Good Family and appears to be modest and adhere to a faith-driven way of life" is laughable.
It's completely ridiculous that "Croy said she’s unsure exactly why she was fired. ”To this day, I don’t fully understand,”, this lady was a prosecutor and a magistrate and she was fired for very specific reasons that were explained to her when she was fired. Now she claims she doesn't fully understand????? and now she wants to be a judge???? I can only imagine what she will say when she makes a bad ruling as a judge. I feel that the case here is that she doesn't want anyone to know exactly why she was fired and doesn't want the details of her firing released to the public because it would harm her chances of being elected judge. I am sure that the specifics of how she was "dishonest and disloyal to the court" were clearly explained to her when she was fired. (http://www.portclintonnewsherald...) Why is she being dishonest in answering questions about her firing now years after the fact? She should be honest and forthcoming when asked questions like this and not make feeble attempts at being evasive with her answers. Episodes like this clearly show her true lack of character and lack of integrity and those are the last qualities that we need in a judge.
I would like to know what her connection to Mr Redfern is and how far back that connection goes and why is he such a staunch supporter of her now. Did he play a hand in getting her appointed as a magistrate in the first place? Is this his way of getting a judge elected that he has ties to and influence with? Why is Mr Redfern so adamant about getting rid of Judge Winters? It seems fishy to me that he is so supportive of a former magistrate that he would support her to run against a sitting judge from his own party and make statements that are inaccurate. He said ”I think (Croy) would make a great judge with her understanding of criminal and civil law,” The fact is that just about all of her experience is in criminal law and she has very little experience in civil law. I think there is a lot more to this story than what has been written so far.