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MARTIN CASE Official: Let verdicts stand



Published: Wed, February 23, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



The defense had asked the judge to toss out the verdicts.

WARREN -- A prosecutor is urging a judge in Trumbull County Common Pleas Court to not toss out 12 guilty verdicts and grant a new trial to a retired police chief who paddled boys as part of a juvenile diversion program.

David Toepfer, an assistant Trumbull County prosecutor, filed the motion Tuesday. It is not known when Judge Andrew Logan will rule.

Defense attorney Dominic Vitantonio of Mayfield Village, who represents former Police Chief James Martin, filed motions last week asking the judge to dismiss 12 counts of sham legal process.

Toepfer said the charge of sham legal process means Martin showed juveniles a document that appeared to be official but, in reality, had no legal standing and was not lawfully issued.

On Feb. 3, a jury found that Martin did not assault young men when he paddled them as part of his juvenile diversion program but found him guilty of 12 counts of sham legal process. Martin, 52, also was convicted of six counts of dereliction of duty.

The argument

Vitantonio argued in his brief that since Martin was not convicted of assault, it would be "legally impossible" and "an absurdity" to convict him of using a sham legal process.

"The only absurdity is that the defense would make such an argument," Toepfer stated in his brief. "The court should note that the defense has failed to cite any legal authority in its motion. And that is because there is absolutely no law to support the position of the defense."

Toepfer added that it's impossible to know why the jury reached its decision.

"The defense argument is that somehow, in the face of overwhelming evidence, the jury was wrong when it convicted him of using sham legal process but apparently was right when it acquitted him of assault," Toepfer said.

Sentencing is set for March 1. The dereliction of duty counts carry possible three month jail terms and the sham legal process counts carry possible six month terms.




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