Judge's secret gag order intact

Ohio Supreme court's visiting judge orders his own order kept sealed
Register
Feb 23, 2014

 

Clerk of courts Tracy Overmyer confirmed last week two residents who serve as Sandusky County's “commissioners of jurors” selected the grand jury that heard evidence in the death of Jacob Limberios.

But Overmyer refused to respond to a public records request for information about when they met or how they selected the grand jury. She also refused to provide any standing records related to the grand jury process, erroneously suggesting the documents were subject to a secret gag order from visiting judge Dale Crawford.

“Anything pertaining to this grand jury will remain under seal until I am ordered to do otherwise by Judge Crawford,” Overmyer told the Register last week.

The primary documents requested are unrelated to the Limberios grand jury. Other documents requested are unrelated to the grand jury proceedings or deliberations, but would include some information about it leading up to the appointment of the Limberios grand jurors.

Overmyer and judge Crawford, however, suggested Crawford's secret gag order applied to the public records beyond the scope of the Limberios grand jury proceedings.

The gag order also is subject to itself, Overmyer said, and was to remain secret by order of Crawford. There also is no case number assigned to the order or the investigation.

“I am unable to forward that order, because it states that it should be included in the documents held under seal,” Overmyer wrote on Wednesday.

Crawford could not be reached for comment. He has a mal-functioning email account through the Ohio Supreme Court. Overmyer reviewed the public records request with him, however, and sent the Register a message from the judge that suggests he is mis-interpreting what documents are being requested.

“Judge Crawford asked that I forward this email to you,” she wrote to the Register Thursday.

Crawford's message also suggested Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine wanted documents held under seal.

“I will not release the confidentiality of the grand jury proceedings unless requested to do so by the prosecutor,” the judge wrote, in part. “Please direct your request for information to the Attorney General's office.”

DeWine's office served as prosecutor during the Limberios grand jury after Sandusky County officials were removed from the investigation by Crawford, who cited apparent conflicts in how it was being conducted.

DeWine's investigation determined local officials allowed important evidence to be destroyed and they reached an erroneous conclusion how Jacob Limberios was killed. He said Limberios' death certificate should be changed from suicide to accidental, but Sandusky County coroner John Wukie refused.

When the Limberios investigation by the AG finished Nov. 20, DeWine said all public records related to it would be released. His office did not immediately respond to an email Friday inquiring about Crawford's suggestion DeWine asked for the judge's secret gag order blocking release of public documents.

Related by pattern

In another state investigation, DeWine is considering impaneling another grand jury in Sandusky County that could target the Sandusky County Sheriff's Office and the Fremont Police Department. If he does, it will be the third local grand jury in the county DeWine will have asked for since he took office in 2011.

Two previous grand jury investigations by DeWine — the sexploitation of a mentally ill female inmate in the jail in 2012 by jail guards and the Limberios death — resulted in no criminal indictments. A grand jury investigation after Bryan Jones was killed by deputies inside his home in July 2010 — prior to DeWine's election — also resulted no findings of criminal wrongdoing. 

But DeWine agreed in August to conduct a criminal investigation into the circumstances surrounding the death of Craig Burdine at the Sandusky County Jail in August 2007. Burdine's family contends a jail guard using a choke hold caused Craig Burdine's death, and jail officials and police covered up what occurred.

Neither the sheriff's office or the Fremont police conducted a criminal investigation after Burdine, who was handcuffed and shackled when he allegedly became combative with the officers, died.

DeWine's spokesman, Dan Tierney, told the Register previously there are no provisions in the Ohio Revised Code that address the possible conflicts that might exist when local officials are responsible to impanel a grand jury that targets local officials.

Tracy Overmyer is the sister of Sheriff Kyle Overmyer, whose employees likely could be targets. Her husband, sheriff's captain Michael Meggitt, works for her brother. As clerk of courts, she is responsible for getting the grand jury pool selected, according to Ohio Revised Code 2939.02.

The sheriff's office is tasked with locating and serving summonses to the prospective grand jurors selected by the county's jury of commissioners.

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Comments

John Harville

While the grand jury was meeting, one member told friends who were discussing it at lunch "I can't hear this" until after the grand jury was done meeting. The member was (is?) a probation officer. Thus the seal of the grand jury was broken as jurors are sworn even to conceal their identity/participation on a grand jury.

Stop It

Why does Sandusky Co. seem to always block everything and always being on the defensive? They have something to hide.

One would tend to think Mr. Dewine would be tired of getting called on to that county and finally resolve a few issues.

Babo

What will it take for people to understand that the AG's office is part of the problem; that the problem (coverup of LEO and government misconduct by abuse of retired visiting judges; special prosecutors and grand juries) extends to several counties; and that the problem has been on going for well over ten years.

It's a systemic problem due to the State of Ohio's government structure. There are no checks and balances on judges, prosecutors and law enforcement officers and there is no independent agency to which one can report allegations of public corruption that are not controlled by the same people that one seeks to be investigated.

When clerks and judges are allegedly hiding court documents without case numbers(and it has happened in Erie, Ottawa and Cuyahoga Counties as well) it is way past time for the FBI to be contacted.

Matt Westerhold

Thanks Babo. It's my understanding the local FBI office was contacted about the Limberios investigation and the destruction of evidence and other issues with how it was conducted. The FBI's district office was also contacted, I believe, and the complaint was referred back to the local office. The U.S. Attorney's office in Cleveland was contacted and the inquiry was again referred back to the local FBI. The local FBI office refused to take any action and stated the Limberios investigation was "a matter of local concern."  The FBI's home page at its official website states this about public corruption.

Babo

They (Limberios family, Burdine family, and female jail victim and her family) need to contact Washington DC Department of Justice Civil Rights Division and the Public Integrity Unit of the DOJ. They also need to get Congresswoman Kaptur and Congressman Latta involved in applying pressure to the DOJ.

It won't be easy, but somebody has to literally draft a RICO complaint for the DOJ with supporting documents and affidavits. In other words, one has to make the case for them and make it so compelling they can't turn away.

In this state, LEO's are all in bed with another figuratively and literally. I forgot that point in my post above and it would be a waste of time to involve Ohio FBI in my opinion.

Ralph J.

The Cleveland FBI did nothing about the government crooks there. IMO, the Cleveland FBI protected the crooks. State Senator Tim Grendell (R) tried to get Mason and Cordray to bring state charges against the crooks because state laws were broken. Mason and Cordray did nothing.

http://blog.cleveland.com/metro/...

jacksonbrowne

They should also contact the CIA, KGB, SS, UN, Interpol, Santa Claus (he see's all the time), CSI, Law & Order, Matlock, Barnaby Jones, Nancy Drew, Mystery Mobile aka Scooby Doo. I know that I have missed some but this should be a good start.

Matt Westerhold

You should stick to music, Jacksonbrowne, and maybe comment at the Davis-Besse news articles. 

sandtown born a...

Correct they are all on the same side

Capt. Ford

Sounds suspiciously like Dean Wormers [Double Super Secret Probation]

soccer mama

another example of the tainted Jury on the Limberios case is where the Sandusky County boards their dogs and a jury member ( owns kennel) also personal friends with ( Tom Stierwalt-Prosecutor & wife bought a dog from a juror) was on the jury. These people think they are above the law! From cases before the Limberios and cases after. how many more are out there?! It is sickening! They hand pick these jury! COver Up!!! They hide behind sealed orders! Stand up to all SAndusky COunty and bring JUSTICE 2 ALL!!!

Common Tater

Matt,

You forgot to mention that Tracy Overmyer's husband, Sandusky County Captain Mike Meggitt, was involved in the initial investigation into Jake's death.

EdO's

DING DING DING!

Turduckenbreath

HELP! HELP!

The paranoids are after us!

Darkhorse

Talk about conflicts of interest. Maybe this story should go another way and start knocking on the doors of the Ethics Commission with nepotism. If one can't find one way of attacking the problem, go another way. If the law has loop holes, shouldn't the State laws be looking at covering up the loop hole with some kind of accountability? What exactly is going on in Sandusky County that the problem still remains? How many more people must die before someone starts doing their job that the people appointed them to do? Maybe, DeWine found something else during his investigation that he can use to solve the problem. Sealing the files makes one very suspicious. No one should have to work this hard to bring justice to those who have died without a proper investigation.

Simple Enough II

I thought, the whole purpose of the secret grand jury was just that secret. Don't like it, OFW. This whole limberious incident has turned into a 3 ring circus. I just wish Charles Manson or maybe john Wayne Gacy would fess up to to shooting JL, seems about the only thing that make ya'll happy unless it was rumors that Sheriff Kyle & prosecutor Tom were either invoked with each other or were infact aliens.

Babo

It wasn't a secret grand jury but a special grand jury because the county prosecutor had conflicts of interest and could not be involved in the proceedings. Just because a grand jury is "special" it doesn't mean the law relating to selection of grand jurors gets tossed. In fact the selection process should be highly scrutinized in a special grand jury because of the potential for improper influence by county officials.

Also, while the proceedings of grand juries remain secret, it doesn't mean the process used to select the grand jurors or the outcome remains a secret. The purpose of a "secret indictment" from a grand jury is to prevent an alleged criminal from fleeing, or interfering with the grand jury process. And where there are concerns with the legitimacy of a grand jury's deliberations, a court can order the transcripts disclosed.

Finally, there doesn't appear to be any authority in the Ohio Revised Code or Ohio Rules of Court that allow retired visiting judges to oversee grand juries. A retired judge is only allowed to preside over a particular case and cannot assume the administrative and supervisory duties of the elected Common Pleas court judges.

In fact I can't find any authority that allows a retired visiting judge to preside over any criminal case at all, let alone supervise the grand jury whether special, or regular in a county.

Simple Enough II

Did You sleep in a holiday express lastnight?

Julie R.

I thought the very same thing --- why would a visiting retired judge be overseeing a grand jury? Has this ever been done before or is this a first?

Babo

Possible other approaches to obtain justice include:

1) Requesting the Governor file a Complaint for removal of Sandusky County Sheriff Overmeyer and or Prosecutor Tom Stierwalt for a pattern of alleged misconduct in the Limberios, Burdine, sexually exploited inmate, and Vitte Jr. cases.
http://codes.ohio.gov/orc/gp3.08v1

2) Any taxpayer or group of taxpayers (this includes anyone who paid sales tax in Sandusky County) could file a Complaint in Common Pleas Court for Removal of Sandusky County Prosecutor Tom Stierwalt for malfeasance/misconduct in office in the Vitte Jr. case and other cases.
http://codes.ohio.gov/orc/309.05.

3) A Complaint for alleged public corruption involving the Sheriff, Prosecutor, Clerk of Court and some LEOs in Sandusky County could be filed by anyone with the Office of the Attorney General's Ohio Organized Crime Investigation Commission under RC 177.02 with the request that a special prosecutor be assigned to investigate alleged obstruction of justice and other crimes in the Limberios, Burdine, Vitte Jr., and inmate cases.

mamaC

How does one file these? Online, in person, through an attorney?

Babo

It would be best to submit a complaint concerning alleged misconduct to the governor in writing with affidavits and documents attached as exhibits demonstrating the alleged misconduct. It would probably be wise to use an attorney. RC 003.08

A Complaint for removal of the County prosecutor is a legal complaint filed in the Court of Common Pleas. Any person can file one, but again it is probably wise to use an attorney. RC 309.05

Finally, a Complaint to the AG's office Ohio Organized Crimes Investigations Commission can also be filed by anyone but again it would be wise to use an attorney. RC 177.02

First place to look is to read the applicable statutes for each type of complaint.

nosey rosey

All this BS over a kid playing with a loaded gun. I'd rather find bigfoot.

justice_forall2014

Unless of course, if it were your child.

red white and blue

Nosey rosey^^^ is heartless with nothing to do but comment on stuff she knows NOTHING ABOUT!

red white and blue

J4J!!!!!!!!!!!!

PapaJoe

The Sandusky Register is a laughing stock in our area. They run the same stories, over and over again! They always portray law enforcement as evil and defend criminals. Most newspapers try to remain objective but they only run attack stories! I dont know what they want about the Limberions. Bottom line the kid acidentially shot himself. Burdine was a dangerous criminal and they are portraying him as the victim

mamaC

If Burdine was dangerous criminal then how was he not already in jail that night? He is a victim by having his life taken away by someone in that jail!!

jacksonbrowne

Burdine was whacked on drugs.

mamaC

Also if Limberios shot himself No One showed anything FACTUAL that Jake was holding the gun when it went off! What WAS shown the science was there was NO stippling, no GSR/Primer or blood splatter on his hands! Smoke and mirrors is what was created to detract from the Science that showed Jake didn't do it. Accident still doesn't mean it was a suicide like your so called coroner dr. Wukie claims.. I am not getting my information from Sr. Or hearsay I have read the AG's released reports. I suggest you spend sometime and review all of them before making these ignorant comments! J4JE

Matt Westerhold

Thanks PapaJoe. It's good you find value in the Register, even if it is just for a laugh. It's likely there are people who feel differently than you, and who have looked at more information than just the official story you accept so readily and repeat so succinctly.