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City of Huron fires “special” prosecutor Michael Joseph O’Shea, who pursued First Amendment-retaliatory prosecution

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Firing takes place over 13 months after Stacy Hinners’s ordeal began, and in response to a formal taxpayer demand by City of Huron activists Stacey Hartley and others.

Video of Huron civic activist Stacy Hinners enduring First Amendment retaliation on May 14, 2019.

Huron, OH – Today—over 13 months after the ordeal of First Amendment retaliation and malicious prosecution of civic activist Stacy Hinners began—the City of Huron’s new law director, Todd Schrader, fired Michael Joseph O’Shea—the so-called “special” prosecutor hired to prosecute Mrs. Hinners over her speech to the City Council on May 14, 2019 criticizing Open Meetings Act violations. O'Shea's firing came in response to a formal written taxpayer demand by City of Huron civic activists Stacey Hartley; Michele Schuster; Brandon and Elisabeth Kenning; John and Cheryl Zimmerman; and Charles and Charlene Baron that the City do so.

In response to the taxpayer demand letter, Schrader reported to the taxpayers’ attorneys, Subodh Chandra and Brian Bardwell:

“Mr. O’Shea’s services as special prosecutor in that matter have been terminated, effective immediately. There are no charges pending against Ms. Hinners, and the City has no present plans to seek any criminal charges arising out of those events, or to retain Mr. O'Shea in relation to any.”

The May 8, 2020 taxpayer demand letter discussed a myriad of reasons that Michael J. O’Shea’s appointment and prosecution activity were illegal. It also noted that “O’Shea failed to take the oath to “support the Constitution of the United States” required by Ohio law.

Ohio statute R.C. 733.56 requires a community’s law director to seek an injunction to “restrain the misapplication of funds of the municipal corporation, the abuse of its corporate powers, or the execution or performance of any contract made in behalf of the municipal corporation in contravention of the laws or ordinance[s] governing it, or which was procured by fraud or corruption.”

The failure to do so upon demand empowers taxpayers with the authority to file suit in the City’s name, under R.C. 733.59.

Although Huron’s firing of O’Shea resolves one main aspect of the taxpayers’ concerns, it did not address the issue of recoupment of Huron taxpayer funds improperly spent on O’Shea. Attorney Subodh Chandra pointed this out in a response to Schrader, but received no reply.

Absent resolution, under Ohio law, the taxpayers are free to bring suit in the City of Huron’s name to recover the funds misspent on O’Shea.

Subodh Chandra and Brian Bardwell also represent Mrs. Hinners in the defense of the First Amendment–retaliatory criminal prosecution over Mrs. Hinners’s May 14, 2019 speech, which resulted in a dismissal that O’Shea was free to refile, and in in her and her husband Jason HInners's civil-rights lawsuit against O’Shea, the City, and other current and former Huron officials including former Mayor Brad Hartung and Councilman Glen Ginesi.

Chandra said, "Now that O'Shea at long last has been fired, thanks to new City leadership, the next step in the retaliatory criminal matter is for us to ask the Huron Municipal Court to convert the dismissal of the First Amendment–retaliatory charges against Mrs. Hinners into a permanent one, known as 'dismissal with prejudice.' The City should have taken care of this itself—but we will."

The conduct of Huron officials including former Mayor Brad Hartung and former Councilman Glen Ginesi against Mrs. Hinners and her husband Jason Hinners remains under criminal investigation by the Ohio attorney general’s office.

Chandra Law has had a series of successes in taxpayer demands and taxpayer litigation in Ohio.

Related Practice Areas
First AmendmentGovernment Ethics, Misconduct, Fraud, & AbuseOhio Public Records Act, Open Meetings Act, FOIA, & Sunshine LawsMalicious Prosecution, Abuse of Process, and False ArrestTaxpayer Lawsuits in Ohio

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