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Judicial CP - November 2006

Corpun file 18638

The Tribune Chronicle, Warren, Ohio, 27 November 2006

Paddling case overturned

By Christopher Bobby
Tribune Chronicle

WARREN The 11th District Court of Appeals Monday overturned all but one of 18 convictions linked to a spanking program run by former Fowler police Chief James Martin.

The appellate court ordered the case back to Trumbull County Common Pleas Court so Martin can be re-sentenced on a single, misdemeanor count of dereliction of duty. The sole misdemeanor conviction dealt with Martin failing to turn in a traffic ticket to court officials for a young offender who instead was referred to the ex-chief's unauthorized diversion program in which clients were spanked for infractions.

Martin already has performed the 120 hours of community service ordered by Judge Andrew Logan on the original 18 convictions. Martin also was sentenced then to two years' probation and fined $500.

Defense attorney Dominic Vitantonio said he was pleased with the reversal.

"In a way, the system worked. But he's still left hanging with the technical conviction on one count," Vitantonio said, contemplating a request for an official pardon by the governor.

Seventeen charges were overturned in the decision drafted by Appellate Judge Donald R. Ford. Another dereliction of duty conviction based on Martin keeping records of the program in his home was thrown out because the court said Martin wasn't keeping records from the public since the program wasn't authorized.

Assistant Prosecutor LuWayne Annos, who handles appeals for the Prosecutor's Office, said it's possible the case will be appealed to the Ohio Supreme Court for a clarification on the law.

Martin's weeklong trial in February 2005 focused on corporal punishment in which several teenage boys and young men agreed to receive paddlings in order to avoid prosecution.

Jurors had deliberated about 17 hours before returning with the verdicts. Martin, who also was a Howland police captain, was found guilty on 12 counts of using a sham legal process, and the jury was split on dereliction of duty charges, finding him guilty on six counts and innocent on the other six.

The "sham" charges and five of six dereliction charges were overturned after Vitantonio claimed the charges weren't supported by sufficient evidence and Logan should have dismissed them.

Martin was found innocent on 11 of 12 counts of assault, with the jury hung on the remaining assault charge. He also was found innocent of the only felony charge, theft in office, which accused Martin of stealing Howland Township property in the form of diversion program files from the 1970s and 1908s.

The judge had ignored a prosecutor's recommendation for even the slightest amount of jail time.

The decision refers to a suspended six-month jail sentence that Logan will have to deal with at a re-sentencing, which has not yet been scheduled.

Originally Martin was indicted on 52 counts but assistant prosecutor David Toepfer dropped 16 counts before trial.

Copyright 2006 The Tribune Chronicle

blob See also: Still pictures from video of one of the police station spankings

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