Tainted grand jury

DeWine wants judge to approve findings despite secret selection process
Register
Mar 21, 2014

 

Sandusky County clerk of courts Tracy Overmyer likely violated state law when she oversaw the formation of a grand jury to hear evidence in the death of 19-year-old Jacob Limberios, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine acknowledged Wednesday.

DeWine called it “procedural” mistakes in a court motion asking the judge to approve the findings despite the violations of the Ohio Revised Code.

“The purpose of this motion is twofold, to formally inform the court in writing and to seek the court’s judgement on the matter,” the motion states.

Read the court motion

DeWine asked visiting judge Dale Crawford to approve the findings of the grand jury despite the apparent unlawful secrecy that occurred during the selection process. Crawford was appointed last year by the Ohio Supreme Court to oversee the process after numerous previous irregularities in the investigation forced local judges to step aside.

“The state would request the court to review (the record) and reaffirm the integrity of the special grand jury,” DeWine’s motion filed Wednesday with Clerk of Courts Overmyer states.

Read the letter to Overmyer

The law requires a “fair and open” process be documented during grand jury selection, but Tracy Overmyer apparently failed to do that. The Register filed a public records request Feb. 18 asking her to provide the required procedural documents, which are designed to assure that a grand jury not be stacked with biased jurors.

She initially responded to the public records request that judge Crawford had sealed them under a secret gag order. Clerk Overmyer also stated the secret gag order was a secret as it  also has been sealed by Crawford.

Crawford has maintained the secret gag order and refused to release the names of grand jurors. The AG’s office investigated one allegation that a grand juror had a business relationship with both the sheriff’s office and the prosecutor’s office. It has also been suggested that another member of the grand jury is a probation officer.

Read the petition for removal of prosecutor, sheriff

As late as last week, Tracy Overmyer was still suggesting she was attempting to locate the required documents after she was told the fair and open requirements in the grand jury process in state law could not be subject to a gag order.

Family business

The latest discovery of apparent violations follow a series of mistakes, missteps and other alleged violations that go back to the very start of the investigation and involve Tracy Overmyer’s relatives.

Sheriff Kyle Overmyer, the clerk’s brother, and sheriff’s Capt. Mike Meggitt, her husband, responded to the York Township home where Limberios was killed on March 2, 2012. They determined in less than three hours that Jake accidentally shot himself in the head, but evidence was destroyed during that initial phase of the investigation.

Blood-spattered clothing and shoes worn by witnesses who were inside the home and other evidence was destroyed, and Sandusky County coroner John Wukie refused to go there or order an autopsy before ruling Jake’s death an accidental suicide.

All three witnesses eventually failed lie detector tests.

Two of them had passed earlier polygraph examinations ordered by the sheriff’s office, however, but those tests were later determined to be improperly administered rendering the results that found them to be truthful as being unreliable.

Polygraph examinations cannot be 100 percent reliable and are not admissible in court, but they are often used to make a determination or seek an outcome in criminal investigations.

DeWine said last week during a segment of “Between the Lines,” the Register’s public affairs talk program, that it was not his job to assure the grand jury was properly selected.

He said didn’t believe any grand jury would have returned any indictments, however, based on the “exhaustive” investigation conducted by the AG’s office after it was appointed by Crawford to take over due to the appearance of conflicts in the way local officials had handled it previously.

“We can bring 20 grand juries in, and we would have no indication they would have come up with any different result,” DeWine said during the program last week.

It’s not clear why the AG’s office sought a grand jury at all if they didn’t believe the evidence showed criminal wrongdoing.

Striking out

It’s also unclear whether a special grand jury formed at DeWine’s request in 2012 to investigate alleged wrongdoing by Sandusky County sheriff’s deputies was similarly tainted. 

Clerk Overmyer has not responded to a public records request for the “fair and open” selection documents required by the Ohio Revised Code related to that grand jury, which investigated the sexual exploitation of a jail inmate. 

The inmate, a woman diagnosed mental illness jailed on a minor charge, was denied her medication. She was left naked in an observational jail cell for hours and encouraged by jail guards to perform lewd acts for their sexual gratification. 

That grand jury also found no wrongdoing and failed to return any indictments, suggesting it was not unlawful for jail guards to sexually exploit jail inmates. 

One guard allegedly told a second guard that mentally ill inmates were easy to abuse “because nobody believes them.” 

The jail guards were later fired after the Register first reported the story in January 2012, but each guard was paid $5,000 in an agreement arranged by county prosecutor Tom Stierwalt’s office. The payments required the guards to accept the terminations and not make disparaging remarks about the sheriff Kyle Overmyer.

One of the jail guards who was fired, Frank Kaiser, is the son of an employee who works for Stierwalt, retired sheriff’s deputy Bill Kaiser. Bill Kaiser is an investigator for Stierwalt. His son also was accused in 2007 of being involved in the jailhouse death of Craig Burdine.  

*

The Register has reported the difficulties numerous families have experienced with Sandusky County officials. Click on the links below to read more. 

• Death of Lee Naus

• Isabel Cordle

• Trooper's sex lesson

• Stabbed, beaten burned & zapped

• Bryan Jones

• Limberios shooting saga

• Craig Burdine

• Sexploited jail inmate

*

Read the Ohio Revised Code statutes governing grand jury selection: 

ORC 2939.02

ORC 2313.08

ORC 2313.09

ªORC 2313.10

ORC 313.11

 

Comments

slightthroat212

how can anything be approved if the entire thing was wrong from the beginning?????? I don NOT understand what is going on over there. It sounds like the entire system is corrupt from beginning to end. The sheriff, the deputies and the clerk have everything tied up, are all related and you couldn't get a fair deal if you tried. Remind me to never get a ticket or do anything wrong in that country. You may never be heard from again if you do. LOL

mamaC

Second that!

Peninsula Pundit

As his actions here show, DeWine is in on the corruption as well.
But that has never been in doubt.
A career politician who has never held an honest job in his life, living off the family name.

justice_forall2014

Remember the 1990s movie Nothing But Trouble?

red white and blue

I hope the limberious family NEVER GIVES UP! THERE ARE A LOT OF US HERE THAT SUPPORT YOU AND ARE NOT AFRAID TO SIGN THE PETITION. THESE OFFICIALS NEED TO BE BROUGHT DOWN ! J4J

Lil DAB

Stop It

Hazzard County......

mamaC

LMAO!!! Good one!

Jim Lahey

There are procedures in court that defense attorneys try to argue all the time, this isn't anything different. The problem is the Register thinks that they are a defense attorney when they don't know what they are talking about. Making a story out of nothing and causing more misguided ignorance.

Also, the two that took the polygraph tests DID NOT fail them. The state documents (provided by the Register) of their tests results were ruled truthful. I would not trust a TV show's polygraph test, as most reasonable people wouldn't. You also put it in here as fact that the state's polygraph test was flawed, yet that's someone's opinion and NOT FACT.

jacksonbrowne

Amen Jim!!!! I caution you, however, not to disagree with the powers to be of this paper or you will be gone........

Matt Westerhold

Thanks Jim. The Register is reporting new information. It was the Attorney General's Office that filed the court motion asking the judge to "re-affirm" the grand jury's findings. Generally, a newspaper's job is to ask questions and report developments in important cases. That's what has been done here. The suggested violations of the grand jury selection process would seem to be in contrast to the very foundation of criminal justice.

The Register is in no way acting as a defense attorney, and your suggestion in that regard also is inaccurate.

There were additional inquiries about the polygraph tests you might not be aware of, and your statements about that issue also are not accurate, based on the additional information that was provided by the AG's office. The "opinion" the initial tests were flawed was shared by numerous experts in the field of polygraphy, and that view was not refuted by the AG's office. 

You do seem to have some inside knowledge, although it's not up-to-date with developments. Have you worked on this investigation in any official, or public capacity?  

Peninsula Pundit

According to the polygrapher on Dr. Phil's show, the test that was administered here was fundamentally flawed by the questions asked.
Refer to theshow for the results of the tests administered by Dr. Phil.
Disclaimer: That show was the only one I could bear to watch and I am not being compensated by Dr. Phil for this opinion.

mamaC

Since Mr. DeWine state's that it doesn't matter how many grand jury's heard the case that the outcome would still be the same. My question is this. Why waste the tax payer's money even taking this to a grand Jury? I might be missing something but, if the prosecutor goes before a grand jury aren't they seeking a true bill? If the AG knew all this then WHY put the family through even more emotional stress by making them think there was more to their son death? All these missteps in this case just does not add up and with the other cases coming out of this county. Shame on you DeWine for wasting tax payer's money by even taking this to a grand jury since your office found this to be a horrible accident. Why not sit down with the family and tell them your findings?
Another question comes to mind is why did Judge Dale Crawford Seal the proceeding? Since the beginning the Limberios family has ever asked for was an , " Open and Transparent Investigation "? I would think that if the family was begging for an open and transparent investigation that the Judge & the Ohio AG would want to do that but, sealing records just makes this look even more covered up, missteps, and oops or whatever you want to call this. UNSEAL the records since DeWine office did such a fabulous job investigating this. Let everyone involved stand accountable for their actions. Let the public see who testified and what they stated! Why hide it all with sealing the records. The family has asked for that so why not?

There needs to be some kind of check and balances put in place to hold officials accountable in this country. They all hid behind their Immunity they have and are not held accountable for their actions or lack of.

mamaC

Thought this was a "special" Grand Jury, Not a "Secret" Grand Jury or is it a "Secret Special grand Jury? DeWine what is it?
Also Mike DeWine are you seeing what the family has stated and the Justice for Jake & Ella group have been screaming that Sandusky County official's are above the law? Are you going to be part of the solution or part of the cover up? Or did Sandusky County pull the wool over you and your office's eyes also?

Lil DAB

Babo

The U.S. Constitution in Article VI clauses 2 and 3 mandates that the US Constitution is the supreme law of the land and that EVERY judicial and executive officer of several states take an oath to uphold the law. The requirement of an oath of office in keeping with the US Constitution is also mandated by the Ohio Constitution in Article XV section 7. An oath of office is for the term of office to which one is elected or appointed and is not a life time oath. For example the POTUS swears a new oath of office upon re-election as does every public officer.

Retired Judge Dale Crawford in order to act lawfully under the US and Ohio Constitutions must take and record an oath of office to act as a judge in Sandusky County, Ohio. Without the constitutionally required oath of office a judicial actor lacks jurisdiction under the US and Ohio Constitutions and all actions are therefore void. IMO, there was no legally enpaneled grand jury because there was no legally qualified judge to oversee the grand jury.

AG DeWine appears to be going along with this alleged charade and blatant violation of US and Ohio law. It ought to be clear that State of Ohio lacks the will to effectively police and adjudicate public corruption cases. (See Ohio Criminal Rule 2(E) providing no jurisdiction to retired judges to hear criminal cases; and Ohio Criminal Rule 6(A) cited by AG Dewine in his motion which only provides authority to oversee a grand jury in a county to an elected Common Pleas Court judge of that county)

Peninsula Pundit

Then why did you post this on the Yost article?
'If ever a case required an independent special prosecutor from DeWine's office instead of a politicized prosecutor, it was this case.'
I was amazed you said that.
DeWine,you can be assured, has no 'independent' special prosecutors.
He's as rotten as any of them, if not more so, due to his first-hand experience in the field of corruption.

Babo

I posted that because that's the proper procedure to obtain a special prosecutor in this state. The process used by Baxter in the Yost case is unlawful.

Now I agree with you that DeWine is as rotten as any of them, but I believe public officials must follow the law. If they don't, that unlawful conduct can be cited in a complaint to DC to justify the need for a federal public corruption case because there is no recourse in this state.

In other words, you give DeWine enough rope to hang himself.

SamAdams

There was a time when police officers were viewed as the good guys, when judges were admired for the justice they represented, and when public officials held the public trust. Although it wasn't THAT long ago that that was true, it's just as apparent that it no longer bears any relationship to reality whatsoever.

What a shame that even the best and most responsible law enforcement officers and court officials are now viewed with a jaundiced eye! And it's all thanks to cases like this one. In my opinion, every one of those County employees should be summarily cleared out and new (hopefully far more honest) people appointed instead. Given that it appears even the state's Attorney General is inclined to just let it go on the assumption nothing would have turned out differently anyway, I'm guessing that isn't going to happen anytime soon.

Peninsula Pundit

It never was true that they were good guys.
It is just a fiction generated by the media's psychotic desire to anoint 'good guys' as foils to the 'bad guys' after 9/11.
And as the 'good guys' are rightfully being deflowered, many are also coming to the realization that the people that were held up as being the 'bad guys' might not be a correct assessment of the situation, either.

MikeWiedle

Looks like DeWine 's office is getting the 1,2 punch from sandusky county the people he was trying to cover for

red white and blue

@mamaC^^^5 on that comment

DickTracey

Ok, red white and blue. ^^^^^^^^^ It is time someone told you that underneath each comment is a blue word that says "reply" if you want to tell that person you like their comment, click on REPLY, when you type your reply, it will be indented beneath the comment and your post will appear directly underneath the comment you are talking to.

Got it? This will prevent your use of ^^^^^^^^^^ 15 comments later.

See? You learn something new everyday!

red white and blue

Maybe I just like making the ^^^^ sign dick.But thanks for the info

DickTracey

^^^^^You did it! ^^^^^^^ +5 ^^^^^^

Good job! Isn't it fun?!

Jim Lahey

Me? No. But we do disagree on the tests. Even experts in the field that refute the state test are still offering an "opinion." I'm sure I could go out and find 10 experts to say the state test is the most accurate. After all, the state does use it, I'm sure they have some knowledge about what they are doing.

rottnrog

" I'm sure they have some knowledge about what they are doing."

You are kidding, right ? LMAO

Matt Westerhold

Thanks Jim. You're assuming something, however, that is unlikely. The AG's office did not refute the findings of those experts and did not seek any opinions that might have been contrary. Also, just FYI, if you use the "reply" button under a comment, the response will be attached to the comment you're addressing. 

Peninsula Pundit

You're on,Jim.
Find those polygraphers and post them here.
The flaws in the state test were of such an egregious nature that even the layman can understand them.

Jim Lahey

There are people in the field of Polygraphing and their oversight that have devoted their entire professional careers on the subject. When the state uses a method in any field that they have oversight of, the method is fundamentally agreed upon by the officials in the state so that the majority of consensus will agree that the method is correct. We expect nothing less of the state because it is our government. They know these methods may be criticized so they use the most agreed upon techniques.

It is not the job of the AG's office to refute their own findings from their own branch of government. They do not need to seek other opinions because the technique they are using is it and there is nothing else to it. That's the job of defense attorneys. Which doesn't mean anything anyways because polygraphs cannot be admitted as evidence. It's an investigative tool, nothing more.

You are the one that is assuming. You put in your article that the state test was wrong. Just because one or more experts in the field disagree with it doesn't mean it's wrong.

My problem is with the facts not being reported, and opinion reported instead. I think most people realize that one "expert" from Dr. Phil, daytime TV, doesn't really compare to the State of Ohio.

Instead of putting your opinion in every article, why don't you let the readers decide what is right and what is wrong. Isn't that how a newspaper should be?

DickTracey

Well, will you look at that? Just look at it!

You Jim, have learned something from Matt Westerhold !

Congrats on using the reply button Jim!

Matt Westerhold

You're not getting this Jim, and you're being naive. The AG acknowledged in an interview there was a problem with the BCI testing method, and the "Dr. Phil" polygraphist is a retired FBI agent who was in charge of a West Coast field office division. The method used by the BCI polygraphist was outdated and there weren't any experts who would disagree that the BCI testing was improperly administered. These aren't opinions; they're vetted facts of the matter as they are presently known. I appreciate your willingness to politely disagree, but you are providing inaccurate information. 

Jim Lahey

No I guess I dont't get it. I guess I don't get why you don't put exactly what you just said in every article that you write about the polygraph test. I'm not disputing the validity of the test so much as I dispute your desire to consider it fact when it is not. Let the people decide what is right and wrong. Dont mislead people.

Commenter

Oh what tangle webs we weave, when first we practice to deceive.

sash

My understanding is that the error was the failure to publish the date and time of the drawing for the Grand Jury. Does anyone know if Sandusky County previously published dates and times for jury drawings and this failure to publish was out of the norm? Or have they never published because they are ignorant of the statute? Does Sandusky County physically draw juror numbers or is it computer generated like the larger counties? Anyone know?

Ctwhalers

Jim you only mislesding people.