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GIRARD School board opposes lawyer



Published: Wed, September 5, 2001 @ 12:00 a.m.



A judge is expected to decide soon whether to dismiss a lawsuit seeking to remove the board members.

By PEGGY SINKOVICH

VINDICATOR TRUMBULL STAFF

WARREN -- Attorneys for the Girard Board of Education want Judge W. Wyatt McKay to stop Sebastian Rucci, an attorney who represents several parents, from practicing law in his court.

Atty. Louis Damiani has filed a motion in Trumbull County Common Pleas Court asking the judge to revoke the status granted to Rucci allowing him to represent a client in another state.

Reason for move: Damiani notes in his motion that Rucci is not licensed to practice state law in Ohio. Rucci is licensed to practice law in California and in federal court in Ohio.

Rucci said he has moved to Ohio and plans to take the bar exam here soon.

The judge granted the status to Rucci, but Damiani says it should be revoked for several reasons, including that Rucci "has made material misrepresentations of fact to the court."

Rucci said he finds the motion laughable. "Sure they want to get rid of me, but I don't believe this will work. I am effective. This motion is comical. ..."

Core of dispute: Rucci and Atty. Don Hanni have filed a lawsuit asking the court to remove the school board members for not informing parents of the health problems at the intermediate school.

They also filed a lawsuit on behalf of Robert Foley, former principal of the intermediate school, asking the court to prohibit the board from transferring Foley to the junior high school.

Both cases are pending.

The motion asking for Rucci's status to be revoked states that Rucci's letterhead "supports a finding that he is engaged in the unauthorized practice of law."

Rucci's letterhead bears his name and title, "counselor at law," and a Poland address and telephone number.

Judge McKay will review the defense attorney's motions later today.

The judge is also expected to make a decision in the next two days on whether he will dismiss the lawsuit seeking to remove the school board members.

Recall petition: Board attorneys say the lawsuit should be dismissed and cited case law that a recall petition has to spell out the specific complaint against elected officials. This was not the case with the petitions circulated in Girard, they argued, because the complaint was on a separate piece of paper, signed only by attorneys.

Rucci disagrees and says the lawsuit and petitions were filed properly.

If the judge decides to dismiss the suit, Rucci said, he will immediately file an appeal with the 11th District Court of Appeals. If the case is not dismissed, a hearing will be conducted Friday, court officials said.




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