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Huron defendants tell federal court in First Amendment-retaliation case filed by Stacy and Jason Hinners: we're not interested in alternative dispute resolution

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Huron publicly rejects the idea of mediating the Hinnerses' First Amendment-retaliation and malicious-prosecution case.

Video of Huron civic activist Stacy Hinners's experience of First Amendment retaliation on May 14, 2019. Then-Mayor Brad Hartung had police drag her out of the City Council meeting and criminally charge her, minutes after she spoke during a public-comment section of the meeting about the Council's Open Meetings Act violations and the lawsuit she and her husband had filed to rectify those violations.

Cleveland, OH – In a July 16, 2020 federal-court filing, Defendant City of Huron in the First Amendment–retaliation and malicious-prosecution civil-rights case brought by civic activists Stacy Hinners and Jason Hinners joined other defendants—including all others jointly represented by the City's lead outside attorney, Dan Downey—in taking the position: "Defendants believe the case is not suitable for any form of alternative dispute resolution."

The Hinnerses, by contrast, said in the same court report that they are interested in resolving the matter through alternative-dispute resolution and believe it is ready to be resolved now.

By taking their public position, the City has rejected the idea of going to a court-facilitated or private mediation to resolve the case, over 14 months after police, at former Mayor Brad Hartung's behest, dragged Mrs. Hinners out of a May 14, 2019 Council meeting for her speech in which she criticized the Council's Open Meetings Act violations and announced her and her husband's lawsuit to correct them. That lawsuit was settled with the City paying about $30,000 in attorneys' fees and correcting the violations.

Subodh Chandra, lead counsel for the Hinnerses, said, "The City Defendants' position rejecting alternative dispute resolution is at odds with the positions taken by Council majority members Sam Artino, Monty Tapp, Joe Dike, and Mark Claus—all of whom criticized the prior administration's attack on Mrs. Hinners. The Hinnerses and other community activists are baffled by it and don't understand why the City would want to drag this matter out any longer. The longer the City drags the matter out, the greater the human and financial cost."

In public-record correspondence following the court filing, Subodh Chandra, lead counsel for the Hinnerses, has asked the City's lawyer Downey to confirm directly with his own City clients—including the Council majority—that the City truly is rejecting alternative-dispute resolution now. But Downey has repeatedly failed to answer that pointed question.

Earlier this month, a Huron Municipal Court visiting judge permanently barred the City of Huron from refiling the criminal charges against Mrs. Hinners ever again, granting her request to convert the previous tentative dismissal of the charges to a permanent dismissal, called a "dismissal with prejudice."

The judge's permanent prohibition followed the City's June 24, 2020 firing of Michael Joseph O’Shea—the supposedly “special” prosecutor from Cleveland engaged by former law director Aimee Lane to prosecute Mrs. Hinners. That same day, the City's newest law director, Todd Schrader, wrote Chandra Law to promise that the City is abandoning its efforts to prosecute Mrs. Hinners. O'Shea's firing was in response to a May 8, 2020 demand by Huron taxpayers Stacey Hartley and others, which stated reasons O’Shea's appointment and prosecution of Mrs. Hinners were illegal—and pointed out that O’Shea failed to take the oath to “support the Constitution of the United States” that Ohio law mandates.

Subodh Chandra and Brian Bardwell represent Mrs. Hinners and her husband Jason Hinners in their sweeping civil-rights lawsuit against O’Shea, the City, and other current and former Huron officials including former Mayor Brad Hartung and Councilman Glen Ginesi.

For a more comprehensive summary of what the Hinnerses have endured in retaliation for holding Huron accountable, click here.

The Ohio attorney general's criminal investigation against former and current Huron officials jointly represented by the City's outside counsel remains pending.

Huron City Council members can be contacted by email through links found here.

The current Huron law director, Todd Schrader, can be contacted through this email address:

Related Practice Areas
First AmendmentGovernment Ethics, Misconduct, Fraud, & AbusePolice Misconduct & BrutalityMalicious Prosecution, Abuse of Process, and False ArrestTaxpayer Lawsuits in Ohio

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