Civil Rights & Constitutional Law
Former Mahoning County prosecutor reports misconduct; endures retaliation, including defamation
March 21, 2018
Tuesday, August 21, 2018
CLEVELAND, OHIO – Today, former assistant prosecuting attorney Martin Desmond earned a significant victory in his ongoing wrongful-termination and retaliation lawsuit against Defendants Mahoning County Prosecuting Attorney Paul Gains, Chief Assistant Linette Stratford, and Mahoning County.
In his lawsuit, Desmond claims that Gains and Stratford retaliated against him—including by terminating him and making false statements about him at a press conference—after he complained of misconduct on the part of assistant prosecutors Dawn Cantalamessa and Shawn Burns.
Several of the lawsuit’s claims seek civil damages for alleged criminal acts, including using a false writing to influence a public official; intimidation of a witness; retaliation against a witness for discharging his duties; falsification; and perjury.
Soon after Desmond filed his lawsuit, the defendants asked the court to dismiss the civili-liability-for-criminal-acts claims by insisting the statutes on which Desmond’s claims were based—especially Ohio Rev. Code § 2307.60—require a plaintiff to prove that the defendant was actually already convicted of the alleged crimes before recovering civil damages. The defendants here had not been convicted of the underlying crimes. (Obviously, they didn't prosecute themselves.)
Desmond countered that such a conviction requirement is nowhere to be found in the statute, which authorizes civil recovery for damages caused by any criminal act. Not convictions.
The trial court sided with Desmond, finding that “a criminal conviction or charge is not a prerequisite” in collecting damages resulting from a criminal act. Desmond’s case will thus proceed against the defendants on all claims.
The ruling is significant not only for Desmond’s lawsuit but also for crime victims around Ohio who seek civil relief whether or not criminal charges are pursued. The Chandra Law Firm has represented several individuals in persuing and defending claims under Ohio Rev. Code. § 2307.60.
Desmond is represented by Subodh Chandra and Sandhya Gupta of the Chandra Law Firm LLC, www.ChandraLaw.com.