Judge likes Team Ray's jury picking

But county officials can't pinpoint contract that paid Bellevue company $324,000
Register
Apr 13, 2014

 

Visiting Judge Dale Crawford praised Team Ray, a vendor that provided the “random draw” in October for the Limberios grand jury, saying during a news conference Tuesday the company likely saved taxpayers money by providing an alternative software service at the courthouse.

“By the way,” Crawford said. “This is a very excellent jury process used in this county and also probably saved this county over the years hundreds of thousands of dollars using this as opposed to what most counties use called Court View.”

Team Ray Technologies, a company in Bellevue, operates a service described previously by the the firm’s CEO Ryan Ray as a “joint venture” with the clerk of courts. Team Ray has at least two arrangements for services, with the clerk’s office and the adult probation department, but it does not appear there is a written contract between the county and the company.

The county has paid Team Ray $324,000 for court services since 2010. 

Brock Kimmet, the Sandusky County Court administrator, said he didn't have any information about any contracts with Team Ray. 

"I do not know what they consist of," Kimmet told the Register last week. "That process had already been initiated prior to my arrival."

Kimmet, the county auditor's office, the clerk of courts office, county commissioners and the county administrator all have been unable to locate a contract related to payments to Team Ray, the last of which was in March for more than $40,000. 

It's not clear how Crawford determined the cost benefit of the Team Ray arrangement or whether he was shown contracts or other information when he reviewed it. 

Ryan Ray, the company's CEO, has not responded to inquiries, and Overmyer has ignored questions related to the payments and provided disjointed and nonsensical documents in response to the previous public records requests sent to her. She referred another request to Kimmet, who has not provided a responsive reply. 

Ray changed descriptions of the company at its website and removed references to the attorney general’s office that suggested an endorsement of its products and services, after the Register reported the information. The news report prompted the attorney general's office to order the references removed from the Team Ray website, calling them “deceptive advertising.” 

— NO HITCH, NO WITCH

It was a “perfectly fine” grand jury nonetheless, Crawford declared, despite any mistakes that might have occurred.

“I am here today because people keep asking questions, and I keep hearing the wrong answers,” Crawford said at the start of his 30-minute news conference on Tuesday about the Limberios grand jury.

Crawford said allegations had been made, then said he “had great respect” for the media, but added, “somebody is on a witch hunt.”

“I don’t know where the witches are, and I don’t know why the hunt is on,” Crawford said.

A reporter from the Fremont News-Messenger asked Crawford if he was directing those comments at the Register, which has not made any allegations or filed any complaint with Crawford, the Ohio Attorney General’s Office or any other agency.

“I just wanted to verify, we’re talking about the Sandusky Register, correct?” News-Messenger watchdog reporter Kristina Smith asked.

“I’m not sure where that came from. I was shown an article today,” the judge replied.

“Is it coming from the Sandusky Register?” Smith persisted.

“I get stuff online,” Crawford replied. “As a matter of fact, I hadn’t followed this until, you know, somebody called me and said there’s an allegation and I didn’t understand that. I think it was dealing with the clerk’s office.

“The clerk’s office did something wrong and then (attorney general prosecutor Matt) Donahue emailed me, I don’t believe I talked with him on the phone, and (he) said he may be filing a motion, and I said ‘go ahead and file whatever motion you want.’”

Donahue filed it March 25, informing the judge Sandusky County clerk of courts Tracy Overmyer failed to follow a state law that requires the court to publish in a newspaper a notice of the intent to form a grand jury.

He asked Crawford to affirm the grand jury despite the violation, saying there was no evidence any grand juror was biased.

The attorney general’s office discovered the violation after the Register made a public records request Feb.18 for the documents required by state law that governs jury, grand jury or special grand jury selections. The request for the records was sent to Overmyer and copied to Crawford.

Overmyer initially responded that Crawford sealed the records under a secret gag order. She, the judge and the attorney general’s office all later acknowledged, however, Crawford did not have the authority to gag those records.

— FOLLOW THE LEADER

During his news conference Tuesday, Crawford seemed to be following the example the attorney general’s office set, suggesting headlines in the Register and inquiries to public officials equated to allegations.

Crawford referred to a March 21 article in the Register under the headline “Tainted grand jury,” which the attorney general’s office on Monday alleged was inaccurate. The headline is not inaccurate.

Tierney, in an email to the Register a day before Crawford’s news conference, made a spate of requests for the Register to review the “Tainted grand jury” and other previous articles for potential inaccuracies. His email came after the Register sent out specific additional requests earlier on Monday to court officials, the judge, county commissioners, Tierney and the attorney general’s office, the county auditor and the county administrator.

The earlier emails from the Register to public officials asked for documents or asked them to respond to earlier requests for public records they had not addressed, including providing any contracts for Team Ray Technologies, the private company the county paid $324,000 for court administrative services since 2010. 

— THANKING THE ACADEMY 

As he closed his news conference, Crawford gestured to Donahue, DeWine’s lawyer in charge of the special prosecutions unit.

Judge: “You give it your 100 percent?
Donahue: “I did, yes, your Honor.”
Judge: “Clerk, did you give it your 100 percent.”
Overmyer: “Absolutely.”
Judge: “Maybe you made a mistake?”
Overmyer: “There was no bias.”
Judge: “Let me ask you a question: Do you know every statute in the state of Ohio?”
Overmyer: “Absolutely not.”
Judge: “Alright. You’ll make mistakes again, and I’ll make mistakes again.”

The judge reiterated he did not understand the complaint in Donahue’s motion, calling it “hooey.” 

“I don’t understand what the complaint is,” Crawford said. “I still don’t understand it. If somebody could explain it to me, please do so.”

Geoff Mearns, a former federal prosecutor who was provost at Cleveland State University before becoming president at Northern Kentucky University in 2012, told the Register the statutes Overmyer failed to follow that Donahue detailed in his court motion are designed to protect rights granted in the U.S. Constitution.

“The constitutional guarantee is intended to instill the public’s confidence in the fair administration of justice. Any time that guarantee is not honored, there is a risk that public confidence will erode,” Mearns said.

Crawford was unable to say, precisely, when he would rule on Donahue’s motion to affirm the grand jury.

“I haven’t written anything, because, quite frankly," he said, before appearing to shift while responding. "Uh, I will. It will appease some people’s minds if I write something and put it in writing.”

Crawford complimented the News-Messenger reporter during the exchange they shared at his news conference.

“By the way, thank you for using that picture because I like that picture,” Crawford told Smith. “I see my picture in the newspaper quite often.”

Crawford and Donahue both were asked Wednesday to be guests on “Between the Lines,” the Register’s public affairs talk program. Donahue replied he was reviewing the invitation. Judge Crawford has not replied. 

Comments

holysee

40 grand would buy one he!! of a software suite with many bells and whistles and ateam of IT professionals to back it up, and this is just one of a string of many huge payments to teamray?
Would someone please dissect this company for the public?
Wha are the connections?
Where is all this money going? I really don't get why court software is so costly. Is this typical expenditure?
why does existing software constntly need multi thousands of bucks thrown at it every few months?
Hey Matt, do you have any idea what Erie county spends on the same resources? I would love to see a comparison and an analysis of how this breaks down as to an average cost per court case.

Blue.Streaker

Prepare for a long wait for the SR to publish that comparison. Erie County pays more.

Part of the problem/solution is the clerk/commissioners will say that it's not tax money. These expenditures are paid from a special fund created especially for court technology from a small slice of court costs taken from every case the clerk handles.

If you've received a speeding ticket you may have noticed court costs are much more than they used to be. The Ohio Legislature has added these little special purpose slices. The SR should ask a clerk if they can find one willing to talk with them.

Matt Westerhold

It would seem it first must be established what the $324,000 paid for under which contracts with the county before it can be compared to what other counties might pay for the same services, Blue.Streaker. It needs to be established what is being compared. You might be getting ahead of yourself. 

Blue.Streaker

Yeah.

And still waiting for you to publish whether Erie County publishes the notice you have criticized Sandusky County for failing to publish. Over a week ago you said you'd publish "in a few days."

Goble101

The median computer programmer salary in 2012 was $74,280. By no means would $40,000 buy a team of professionals. It would get you one programmer for a half a year. Since every company has overhead and is out to make some profit it would be even less than that.

http://money.usnews.com/careers/...

$324,000 over 4 years would be equivalent to the county hiring one programmer to do ALL of the work themselves. If the work was done over 10 years as previously reported the county would have spent much, much more.

DickTracey

Moderators have removed this comment because it contained Personal attacks (including: name calling, presumption of guilt or guilt by association, insensitivity, or picking fights).

red white and blue

Moderators have removed this comment because it contained Personal information.

Blue.Streaker

If this is true, Tracy's got some 'splainin to do.

If this is not true, the SR/Dick is looking at libel/slander.

DickTracey

There is nothing malicious about what I said. I "heard" means just that. I heard she had ownership in Team Ray, and Team Ray even admits that it was a "joint venture".

My source is quite reliable and does/did have a horse in the race, so I felt comfortable saying that I "heard" that.

Either way, if she is not reaping financial benefits from Team Ray, her family is.

Erie Sniper

YOU SIR, ARE AN IDIOT! She has nothing to do with Team Ray Technologies. Just because their website said "joint venture" doesn't mean that she has an ownership in the company. And it doesn't mean that the dictionary definition that MATT WESTERHOLD is holding that statement to mean, doesn't mean that was the intentions of the use of the phrase by Team Ray. DICK, along with MATT just need to let this crap rest and move on. Team Ray didn't kill Jake, some drunk kid killed Jake and then Sandusky County officials took over the ongoing mistakes. Why is MATT trying to throw Team Ray under the bus or punish a local business for doing a job well done? Let this dead horse lie!

my oh my

Amen....

vcreed123

Alright, now it appears we have arguments directly from the mouth of "team ray"....

Erie Sniper

As stated in a previous thread, I am not part of any of the Team Ray businesses.

vcreed123

uh huh.....

DickTracey

BTW Erie Sniper, I have been commenting on these stories since the inception of the comment section. Unlike you, who just came on now, to defend Team Ray.

In all of the 50 or more stories on Jake's death, I have NEVER mad a single comment. So to say I am trying to keep that story going is totally wrong.

I also have absolutely nothing wrong with Team Ray. I have known his parents and grandparents, for probably more years than you have been alive.

Unfortunately for Team Ray they are just guilty by association, and that's sad.

DickTracey

Yes, I am the idiot. Because like Bill Clinton, it depends on what your definition of is, is.

In this case it's the definition of "joint venture".

A joint venture takes place when two parties come together to take on one project. In a joint venture, both parties are equally invested in the project in terms of money, time, and effort to build on the original concept. While joint ventures are generally small projects, major corporations also use this method in order to diversify. A joint venture can ensure the success of smaller projects for those that are just starting in the business world or for established corporations. Since the cost of starting new projects is generally high, a joint venture allows both parties to share the burden of the project, as well as the resulting profits.

How or why did Sandusky County go to a HURON County business to start a joint venture?

Did Sandusky County advertise for bids, to go into a joint venture with them to design a software program?

Did any other tech companies have a chance to design a program for Sandusky County?

If Sandusky County went into a joint venture to design this software, that is so amazing, is Team Ray allowed now, to sell it to other counties? Does Sandusky County hold the rights to this software?

Most counties in Ohio use Court View. Why did Sandusky County not just choose to use Court View?

Did someone in the Clerk of Courts office, know someone with a small tech company, that they wanted to help?

reader

Government sure is funny.

Huge payments with no contract. Really????

And Sandusky has an official who implies the present commission isn't bound by an employment contract signed by a previous commission. Really????

Hahaha!

Julie R.

This smells big time.

Julie R.

Sounds to me like the county public officials ~ the court administrator, Brock Kimmet, the auditor's office, the clerk of court's office, and the county commissioners ~ are all trying to pass the buck here. In other words, they're all feigning ignorance.

And what do county public officials do best when they get caught? They bring in one of their infamous retired visiting judges to "fix" things, that's what. (that's how they work it in Erie County, too)

Jim Lahey

I still don't understand what the problem is. All I see is the register talking about itself.

bongodog

I certainly would not buy anything from Team Ray. Anything from trucks, to service, to legal council. Nothing! Sounds like the county got ripped off to me!

holysee

Major gravy train being derailed here. Why you wanna make trouble for gravy train? Eveverybody need gravy train, no? Teamravytrain.
Teamravytrain. rolls off the tongue very well......

Babo

Simple solution: Ask the Auditor of State to audit the court accounts. Yes the Court collects fees to pay for computer services but there still has to be contracts and a paper trail on those public funds.

Julie R.

You're right. There's a paper trail for everything and obviously the SR was on the trail. Isn't that why Overmyer was told to tell them that the visiting judge sealed the records? When they found out the SR knew the visiting judge didn't have the authority to do that, she then sent disjointed and nonsensical records. That's one of the infamous stalling tactics the unlawful system is known for.

Babo

True, but if the Clerk can not produce valid records such as an approved contract and approved expenditures in compliance with the law; the Auditor of State can issue a finding for recovery for wrongfully expended public funds against the Clerk personally. In turn (if she can not justify the contract or expenditures) the state audit might generate a federal criminal case just as happened in Ottawa County with the Sheriff.

Julie R.

This visiting judge praised the Fremont News-Messenger and complimented one of its reporters? Of course he did and that's because that joke paper prints exactly what the jokes in the unlawful system tell them to print. Sort of like the Lorain Journal. They do the same thing for Erie County.

DickTracey

Let me dumb this down a little bit.

If I started my own hamburger joint, called Dick's Burgers, I could enter a joint venture with my brother. I could go to his bakery and say, if you start baking me fresh buns for my burgers, I will buy all of my buns from you only.

I could also go to my sister in law, enter into a joint venture with her small tech firm that designs websites. And pay her to design www.dicksburgers.com.

Than, I could hire my neighbors kid, my lawyers kid, my nieces and nephews to all come work for me.

No harm, no foul, because I am a private business owner. It's nobodys business how I run my business.

Unfortunately, the government has a whole different set of rules. And government and nepotism don't mix.

Soap Box Sally

A few questions:

1.) What political contributions has Team Ray and/or Team Ray's owners, employees and/or family members contributed to political campaigns over the last ten years? (Specifically Overmyer, any commissioner, any judge and/or elected official)

2.) Why can't anyone produce the contract between Team Ray and the Clerk of Courts office? This is public information and should be readily available...
a.) Any good business has a legal team that draws up contacts... Is it safe to assume there isn't even a contract?
b.) Is it safe to assume, that Team Ray was "using" this county to test their software... Maybe the software really doesn't exist, and they're using the money obtained from the county, to fund the development of the system?

3.) Computer software cannot "randomly" pick jurors, it MUST be programed to choose the participants--meaning someone writes the code...
a.) What parameters are being utilized to select the jury?
b.) Who established those parameters?
c.) Who is certifying that those parameters are not biased? (i.e. Designer Juries)

Goble101

Most computer programming languages include a Rand() function that returns a random number. It can even have specified upper and lower bounds so selecting a random number out of 40,000 would be very simple to do and would in fact be completely "random".

bongodog

They all have been stealing from the public for a LONG time. From sports to trucks to legal to technology. They should all be indicted and asked to show receipts.