The governor should pardon Nancy Smith

Tom Jackson
Aug 13, 2013

 

The last chance for justice for Nancy Smith, who served years in prison for molesting preschoolers despite mountains evidence that she was innocent, rests for Gov. John Kasich.

Smith is a former Head Start bus driver in Lorain. She was convicted of transporting preschoolers to a man who abused them. She served 14 years in prison. She finally was freed from prison when a Lorain county judge named James Burge became convinced she was innocent and acquitted her. The judge, after sticking his neck out for justice, was slapped down by the Ohio Supreme Court.

The Parole Board voted 9-2 to recommend denying her request for a pardon, although the final decision rests with the governor.

I have posted a copy of the report, which covers both sides, so judge for yourself. Here is an interesting sentence: "The jury did not hear testimony from witnesses, such as bus aides and parent volunteers, who would confirm that the applicant always had an aide or parent on the bus and would verify that the children were dropped off at school and nothing improper happened."

Here is another interesting passage: "Former lead detective Tom Cantu believes that the applicant is innocent. In addition, during the presentation of Judge James Burge at the clemency hearing, he indicated that after the applicant's case was assigned to him after the defense filed a resentencing motion, he reviewed the trial transcript to understand what she had done and to determine if she was deserving of the maximum sentence. He found the trial testimony unbelievable, so he decided to review the investigatory materials. After doing such, he concluded that the applicant was convicted on events that could not have occurred and believes that the applicant is innocent, not just 'not guilty.' Judge Burge indicated that he is ashamed of her conviction, and became very emotional during his presentation. In response to a question as to why he had not yet resentenced the applicant as ordered by the Ohio Supreme Court two years prior, Judge Burge indicated that both the defense counsel and the prosecutor asked him not to do so." (A plea deal spared her from having to go back to prison.)

This case is a major fail for both the Ohio Supreme Court and the Parole Board, which could have provided Kasich political cover by making a courageous but correct decision. (The two parole board members who bucked the majority and voted to recommend a pardon are Richard Cholar Jr. and R.F. Rauschenberg. Good for them.) 

The Plain Dealer's Rachell Dissell (best known for helping to solve an old murder case) has done good work on the Smith case. Check out her story about the accuser who now doubts anything occurred.  She also wrote a story about the Lorain police chief admitting the case was bogus. 

I would point out one additional angle: The Lorain case isn't an isolated case. It was part of a nationwide pattern of sending innocent people to prison for sex crimes against children, fed by a moral panic and improper questioning of children. (The Wall Street Journal's Dorothy Rabinowitz won a Pulitzer Prize largely for her work on the issue.) Ohio apparently was swept up in the trend, and now has one last chance to right a wrong.

I'm not optimistic about the governor's decision, but we'll see. (That's not a criticism of the governor, but if Nancy Smith didn't have bad luck, she'd have no luck at all.) I'll do a follow-up post when the decision is announced. 

 

Comments

MrSandusky

There is another interesting incarcerated woman out there; Dr. Elsebeth Baumgartner is still sitting in prison. Look at her sentence in relation to a number of violent offenders, including murderers, in Erie County.

It just goes to show that if the Government wants you to disappear, they can and will do it.

P.S. Mr. Jackson, I apologize if this spawns a number of anti- or pro- Elsebeth posts. But just think of all the add revenue all of those comments will create...

brassman

Except Baumgartner is guilty as hell and deserves to be exactly where she is.

Centauri

I have done a lot of research into Elsebeth Baumgartner's problems with corrupt Ohio's corrupt judicial system. She is innocent and is a political prisoner who tried to expose the corruption in Ohio. She is one of thousands innocents in Ohio who were sent to prison.

Kelly

Innocent? HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

brassman

http://www.clevescene.com/clevel...

Baumgartner is a menace to society and is no whistleblower. She sees crazy conspiracies everywhere. She definitely should be locked up. Too bad it can't be for forever.

Centauri

http://www.toledoblade.com/Educa...
"Attorney Dean Henry of Tiffin has agreed to handle a complaint filed by Oak Harbor resident Elsebeth Baumgartner. Defiance County Prosecutor Jeff Strausbaugh, who was appointed last month, recently withdrew from the case.

The complaint alleges that some Benton-Carroll-Salem school members and county law enforcement officials, including county Prosecutor Mark Mulligan, have been involved in cover-ups and corrupt activity. All have denied the accusations."

Where is the public records of Dean Henry's findings, brassman?

Why are you so against the truthful investigation of Jacob Limberios's death, brassman?

Pro-levy for Perkins Schools, brassman?

http://erievoicestoo.blogspot.co...

http://www.prisonplanet.com/arti...

http://blog.cleveland.com/metro/...
"CLEVELAND, Ohio -- A lawyer for Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Judge Shirley Strickland Saffold says that the judge and her daughter jointly created the cleveland.com username "lawmiss," who has posted 83 comments on the website, including criticisms of Cleveland leaders, discussions of criminal cases in Saffold's courtroom and disparagement of judges and lawyers practicing in the courthouse."

"Cuyahoga County computer records show that Saffold's courthouse computer was often visiting cleveland.com when lawmiss and governmentwatcher comments were posted."

"The Plain Dealer filed a request for public records showing all websites visited by the desktop computer assigned to Saffold. The computer is in Saffold's private chambers, across a hallway from her courtroom."

"The Plain Dealer reported in March that the lawmiss username was created with an e-mail account that Saffold has used."

Centauri

"Governmentwatcher has been more prolific than lawmiss. Of the 83 comments posted by lawmiss since 2007, 16 are about cases in Saffold's courtroom. Governmentwatcher has posted 193 comments since first appearing in September, and 19 are about Saffold cases.

Some comments reveal familiarity with the cases, as with a governmentwatcher comment about Elsebeth Baumgartner. Saffold sentenced Baumgartner to prison in 2006 for trying to intimidate another judge with bogus lawsuits and threats.

"I was on the baumgartner case, i know what i'm talking about," the governmentwatcher comment says."

brassman

1. I believe the official report that Limberios shot himself. The officials have no reason to cover anything up. Only the delusional conspiracy nutjobs think there is a coverup. There's nothing to investigate.
2. I live in Perkins, my kids go to Perkins, all my nieces and nephews go to Perkins, so of course I am pro-levy. I always support all levies. They are for the good of our community and our schools.
3. Elsebeth Baumgartner was convicted because she committed the crimes she was accused of. Simple as that. I do think she should have had more complete psychological testing because it's pretty obvious she isn't playing with a full deck. Then again, neither are her biggest supporters on the Register.

Centauri

Are you paying your fair share of taxes to the Perkins Local SD, brassman?

Nemesis

"I always support all levies"
Well, that blanket generalization tells us volumes. It paints you as an uncritical syncophant for whatever government says, so any defense of government action you offer is automatically suspect. In the case of your comments about Baumgartner, though, it appears we do have the proverbial case where the blind squirrel finds a nut - that woman's little red choo choo has definitely gone chugging around the bend. However, she doesn't belong in prison; she belongs in a mental hospital.

SamAdams

If Smith is truly innocent — and it sounds like more than a few people are convinced that she is — the governor shouldn't pardon her. A pardon means you're forgiven for a crime. If she didn't commit one, the pardon just makes it look like she did, but that the governor thinks she's been punished enough.

I would HOPE that the governor (or his legal staff) would review this matter carefully. There are certainly enough questions to warrant at LEAST that much! Then, should the evidence show them, too, she's innocent, the governor should overturn the conviction all together. And if there's any wrongdoing in connection WITH that conviction, then THAT should be the subject of the NEXT investigation!

Centauri

Ohio is a very corrupt state with a very corrupt judicial system. I could post hundreds of cases where Ohio's powers that be went after whistle blowers and political activists.

http://www.ohiolibertycoalition....
"Ohio couple attacked by local government after using social media to expose corruption"

brassman

No, it's not. Why do you insist on putting up links to conspiracy sites and never anything actually fact related? Never-mind. We know why.

Centauri

"Why do you insist on putting up links to conspiracy sites and never anything actually fact related?"

Many of my links also include government and school links. Are the Perkins School links factual or fiction?

How many of the school pro-levy supporters tried to get their property valuations lowered by the Erie County (Ohio) Board Of Revision but failed? They then filed an appeal with the Ohio Board of Tax Appeals.
http://www.bta.ohio.gov/CaseSear...

In one case, I see a strong Perkins Schools pro-levy supporter failed to have his taxes lowered by having his property value lowered by the county board of appeals.

I won't give out any names or parcel numbers. One pro-levy supporter paid $310,000 for his home in 1996. 17 years later, the property valuation is $363,820. Other homes in the school district increased over 200 to 300 percent in that period of time.

Centauri