Sandusky County's finest

Matt Westerhold
Dec 19, 2013

Attorney Dean Henry says he's not making a fuss. 

"I'm not complaining, Matt,” he told me in a recent email.

Really? It sure feels that way. 

Here's some recent commentary directed at the Register, and me, from Henry, who represents Sandusky County Coroner John Wukie, the man who believes suicide can be accidental.

*

“You have to stop making things up, Matt.”

“Did you sleep through Ethics class in Journalism?”

“You're a blowhard.”

“You conjured it from thin air.”

“You screwed up again.”

“You're an amateur, Matt.”

“My characterization of you as a poor editor and writer who doesn’t really give a damn about the truth is right on target.”

“You're just making things up.”

“(Reporter) Emil Whitis made that up.”

“You could easily prove me wrong, Matt.”

"Absolute bullshit.  Are you making this up, as well?"

"You’re lying and you’re busted lying."

“You’re just going to have to suck it up and be a man.”

*

I've attempted to address each of his concerns, but try as I might, I don't seem to be getting through to him. 

Comments

White Owl

Not a fan of Dean Henry, but it is easy to engage in misleading character assassination if the statements are not provided in context. As a member of the press/guardian of the First Amendment, Matt should know better.

If these statements are truly representative of Henry's meaning, then Matt should file a grievance with the Supreme Court Disciplinary Counsel office. Then again, he might just find himself in contempt of court or worse.

Also, as hard as this is for many to accept, the cause of death is a legal-medical determination made by a coroner or ME. So it isn't the definition of "is", it is the legal definition of intent.

Matt, IMO, could put the power of the press to better use by leading the call for a federal investigation of SC LE and officials including Henry for official misconduct rather than continuing to play on their home court.

Unassumer

rather THAN

White Owl

Thank you for pointing out that error.

kURTje

Sadly many American children have few to look up to. Most adults are ego/agenda driven.

Unassumer

Isn't it strange how people make things up and then accuse others of making things up? LOL. His statements obviously show how unreliable and untruthful he is. It's very unprofessional and the last place I would make any of those type of comments would be to someone that could publish them!

KnuckleDragger

Come on Matt, put a fork in it, this story is dead. Move on to more important news.

John Harville

Remember Ella... the story is NOT dead as long as an arbitrary explanation remains with the highest legal official stating opinions (did you read the whole opinion?)contrary to local coroner who - because of ego - will not admit he was wrong for not going to the scene, for not talking to the parties, for not insisting all evidence be secured and simply change a certificate so his daughter does not have to live with knowledge that one pompous egotistical man couln't 'man up'. And no, he can't sue me, because he's a public official and I can prove my statements (though he really doesn't want me to).

mikesee

d e a d

mikesee

Exercising my right to free speech I once again find it funny as helsinki that a second rate paper slams a lawyer.

I liken the quality of the SR to the National Enquirer. Want something to brighten your day? Read the SR! A lot of stupid crap and by reading this article one can see where it starts.

deertracker

Do you read the NE? If you do you are not credible AT ALL! Lawyers are not second rate??? Go lay down and quit barking!

mikesee

Only at your house after dinner.

deertracker

You mean my backyard!

mikesee

patio.

Ithink

Why then, do you not only read the SR, but go to the trouble of commenting on its' contents? Do you read the Enquirer also? Do you write them letters about their contents? If your opinion is accurate, you have a lot of time on your hands that is wasted.

deertracker

Why do some of you need context? "You're an amateur", or "You're a blowhard" does not need to be explained. It means exactly what he meant it to mean. DUH??? It amazes me how some of you attack Matt for doing his job but have no issue with Wukie not doing his job that he is paid to do by the taxpayers. There is NO such thing as accidental suicide! PERIOD! Did some of you show up at school at all?

White Owl

Check the archives of this newspaper and you will find stories on Kevin Baxter's lawsuit for libel against this newspaper. He lost because of the context of the statements and insults directed at him.

It's the same situation here. These are insults to Matt, but Henry may have a basis for making them. We don't know.

Matt should publish the entire exchange in a PDF link.

John Harville

LIBEL... must be 1. untrue. 2. published. 3. malicious.

Sullivan v the New York Times (SUPCO) Public figures cannot be libeled by fair comment on their public functions as public officials.

White Owl

The key phrase is "fair comment". By not providing the context of the statements, (which is required for a proper First Amendment analysis) it is impossible to determine whether Matt's statements about Dean Henry are "fair comment".

Similarly, while Matt is not a public official, he is a public figure and without context, it is impossible to determine if Dean Henry's comments about Matt are "fair comment" or "opinion".

Also, there is a cause of action in Ohio called False Light Invasion of Privacy which differs from Libel in that it addresses efforts to publicly portray some one in a "false light" or misleading way. (Yellow journalism).

Finally, Dean Henry is a public official engaged in pending litigation and could possibly ask that Matt be held in contempt of court for trying to undermine the administration of justice.

Publishing the emails in their entirety would eliminate any possibility that Dean Henry has some valid complaints about the news coverage, unless of course the emails show Henry was reacting to false or misleading statements made by Matt which would explain why they are not published.

Ithink

I agree, deertracker. These people are getting angry at the wrong person(s). Amazing.

Sam

OHIO UNIVERSITY-INSITUTE FOR APPLIED & PROFESSIONAL ETHICS;

"The Moral Dimensions of Properly Evaluating and Defining Suicide

By Edward S. Harris, Chowan College

Abstract

For years our understanding of suicide has been commonly defined, as simply, “the taking of ones own life.” Furthermore the word “suicide” in the western tradition has held a negative connotation; most believe that the use of suicide as a solution to a problem is a cowardly act or the action of someone who is not mentally stable. However, over the last century with the groundbreaking research of Emile Durkeim the definition of suicide has proven insufficient. Tom L. Beauchamp has suggested that in order to fully understand suicide properly, we require a morally neutral definition since many different types of action must be noted as suicide and not all actions in which one takes his/her life are morally reprehensible. Along these lines, I propose that we speak of three kinds of “self-killing”: self-sacrifice, accidental self-destruction, and suicide. Each form of self-killing has different implications for ethics. This will assist us in recognizing what situations amount to suicide and assessing their moral implications."

John Harville

So you're making Matt's point for him?
The simple fact is 'suicide' carries the same bad conotation as always (look up the difference between denotation and conotation).
'Homicide' is the taking of another's life - but charges range from circumstances ie: premeditation, unavoidable (vehicular), accidental, manslaughter, self-defense -even stand your ground.... but they all are homicides
A coroner who did not go to the site and did not participate/conduct questioning at the time cannot possibly know enough to make a flat-out ruling based on what a coupla county mounties told him.

Charger85

I just can't understand how this is worth publishing. I've done my best to give the Register and Matt the benefit of the doubt about most things, but this just seems petty. A lawyer calls you names so you publish it? That makes Matt seem just as small as Dean Henry. I don't know, maybe I'm wrong.

Matt Westerhold

You might be right. I'm not sure. I considered the same concerns you raise but opted to publish this because I thought it showed the challenges that a newspaper, a reporter or an editor some times faces with some public officials. It seemed also the email exchange might reflect the same behavior that prompted the Limberios family to seek outside counsel when their questions and concerns were ignored by Sandusky County officials. That was my thinking, anyway. But as I said, you might be right. 

 
White Owl

Why hasn't there been any publicized effort to file grievances with the Disciplinary Counsel of the Supreme Court against Dean Henry?

Your paper could publish the grievance forms and ask readers to fill them out and send them in. Believe me, if that office receives 10, 20, 30 or more grievances against Henry for conduct that brings discredit to the bar, he will have his license suspended.

You already have a finding from a judge that Henry had an impermissible conflict of interest. Please take action instead of continuing to talk about his misconduct.

By the way, do not be fooled by the Supreme Court's confidentiality requirement on grievances. That provision only applies to members of the bar, not the general public and certainly not the press.

Nemesis

"opted to publish this because I thought it showed the challenges that a newspaper, a reporter or an editor some times faces with some public officials."

Matt, do you really want to go with that? It essentially boils down to a play for pity because you have to read mean things.

John Harville

No 'maybe' about it Charger85....

Decades ago an attorney in Indianapolis was asked by a friend why the attorney never responds to comments about him by the Indy Star/News publisher Eugene C. Pulliam.

His response "I make it a policy never to engage in a war of words with a man who buys his ink by the barrel."

By defending the county coroner Wukie (I will not disgrace the fine doctors I know by using the term for Wukie) AT THE SAME he supposedly is conducting the county's investigation into the shooting probably is sufficient to bring him up before the Bar and suspend his license. But then, it begins in his own county bar association....
Actually, Matt is getting off easy. I know one instance several years ago where the FBI was called in because someone mailed a threat to kill the editor's family if the editor didn't shut up....

red white and blue

Deertracker ^^5 ill second that statement ot seems on allmost all storys on here you allways seem to be the voice of reason and (common sence!

John Harville

RW&D "sense". you meant Deertracker "...that statement It seems on aLmost all storIEs on here you aLways seem to be the voice of reason and (common senSe!"

Un hunh... as much as you always are the 'dean' of good grammar...

Sam

When I read the comments attributed to Mr. Henry without the benefit of seeing the total content I have only one comment, LIKE........

John Harville

SAM... what 'total content' do you need?
So... if someone calls you a name, it's okay as long as they provide a reason or you provoked it?

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