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Special prosecutor requested to criminally investigate Huron officials' retaliation against activists Stacy and Jason Hinners

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Chandra to Erie County Prosecuting Attorney Kevin Baxter: "appoint an independent prosecutor who can investigate the conduct of Mayor Hartung and bring charges against him for any applicable offenses, which may include interference with civil rights..."

Cleveland, OH — The lead attorney for city of Huron, Ohio civic activist Stacy Hinners, wrongly charged with “disturbing a lawful meeting,” is requesting that Erie County Prosecutor Kevin Baxter appoint a special prosecutor to investigate Huron's mayor and other officials for criminal interference with civil rights and other potential crimes.

Attorney Subodh Chandra is defending Stacy Hinners against bogus charges in the Huron Municipal Court that she disturbed the May 14 meeting of Huron City Council by facing the audience when she announced she and her husband Jason Hinners had filed suit to nullify secret payments council had approved in a closed meeting. After witnesses at the meeting shared video proving that Ms. Hinners never disturbed the meeting—and after Chandra accordingly demanded the law director dismiss the charge, Huron police added a charge of resisting arrest.

Ms. Hinners has pleaded not guilty to both charges.

Mayor Brad Hartung, who ordered police to remove Ms. Hinners from the meeting, did so in violation of Ms. Hinners’ clearly established First Amendment rights, and, the letter to Prosecutor Baxter suggests, may have violated criminal statutes prohibiting interference with civil rights, intimidation, retaliation, and making false police reports.

But because Law Director Aimee Lane has recused herself from the case and because Ms. Hinners’ husband used to work for Prosecutor Baxter, Mr. Chandra is asking Mr. Baxter to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate not only Mayor Hartung, but also the other city officials who acted in concert with him, including City Manager Andrew White, Law Director Lane, and police officers John W. Orzech and Kevin Koehler.

The letter to Prosecutor Baxter requests investigation of Huron City Councilmember Glen Ginesi for targeting Jason Hinners in retaliation for Hinners's civic activities as well. A sworn affidavit from parish priest Father Jeffrey McBeth reports that Councilman Ginesi contacted McBeth, opposed Mr. Hinners being ordained as a deacon because of Mr. Hinners’s work in exposing the government’s misdeeds, and asked Father McBeth to intervene in Mr. Hinners's criticisms of the government. Details about Father McBeth's testimony are provided here.

“As obvious a case of First Amendment retaliation as this is, the decision to bring charges against Mayor Hartung and his accomplices needs to be made by an independent prosecutor exercising independent judgment,” Mr. Chandra said. “That’s why we’re asking Prosecutor Baxter to appoint someone he trusts to thoughtfully investigate.”

For more information on this case, and for links to videos of Hinners's arrest, please click here.

Video of activist Stacy HInners's speech to Huron city council and the conniption by the mayor—and police seizure it provoked.

Related Practice Areas
First AmendmentGovernment Ethics, Misconduct, Fraud, & AbuseOhio Public Records Act, Open Meetings Act, FOIA, & Sunshine LawsPolice Misconduct & BrutalityMalicious Prosecution, Abuse of Process, and False Arrest

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