Judge defends Dann against attack ad
Ads attacking defense attorneys are 'done in poor taste,' the judge says.
By DAVID SKOLNICK
VINDICATOR POLITICS WRITER
YOUNGSTOWN -- The judge who presided over a case being used in a television commercial to question the credibility of an attorney general candidate said tactics like that are "outrageously inappropriate."
Judge R. Scott Krichbaum of Mahoning County Common Pleas Court oversaw a case resolved in 2002 involving Hurley Quackenbush that saw the Youngstown man plead guilty to a reduced charge of attempted pandering obscenity involving a minor.
Marc Dann of Liberty, the Democratic attorney general candidate, was Quackenbush's attorney.
Ohio Auditor Betty Montgomery of Perrysburg, the Republican candidate for attorney general, is airing commercials criticizing Dann for a statement at sentencing that Quackenbush had "good intentions in trying to reach out to the young children in the neighborhood."
What's not included in the commercial is the rest of Dann's statement that reaching out to kids is "just not an appropriate role for" Quackenbush.
Judge speaks out
Judge Krichbaum told The Vindicator on Thursday that "attack ads on people who represent criminal defendants are done in poor taste and misrepresent what the justice system is all about."
The judge, a registered Republican, said Dann did an "exemplary job" in this case, and "we haven't heard from [Quackenbush] since then."
Quackenbush was initially indicted on a charge of pandering obscenity involving a minor. Two children told Youngstown police in 2001 that Quackenbush showed them nude pictures and touched them inappropriately. Other charges were initially filed against the Youngstown man by police but weren't included in his indictment.
Quackenbush was sentenced to four to six months in a community-based correctional facility.
Judge Krichbaum, a former criminal defense attorney, said "when a campaign tries to degenerate an attorney for a duty performed, it should be frowned upon. It's not what the system is about. Criminal defense attorneys stand up for the constitutional rights of individuals."
The judge recently voted absentee and declined to say if he voted for Dann or fellow Republican Montgomery.
Montgomery is "attacking me for doing my job while my criticism is of her not doing her job to expose corruption in state government," Dann said. "I'm concerned that good lawyers will be discouraged from running for office" because of Montgomery's attacks.
In response, Mark Weaver, Montgomery's campaign consultant, said Dann has the right to defend a "child molester, but the Montgomery campaign has the right to speak about it."
Deena Calabrese, a Mahoning County assistant prosecutor, said at Quackenbush's sentencing that there was no evidence the man engaged in sexual contact with the boys, according to a Vindicator article.
When told that Quackenbush wasn't convicted or indicted on charges of molesting children, Weaver, an attorney, said "We take the victims at their word."
Weaver also said the way Dann, a state senator, represented Quackenbush should make voters question if he is qualified to serve as the state's top legal official.
"Victims and police will have a tough time dealing with an attorney general who says a child molester was trying to reach out to children," he said.
Dann said the claim is ridiculous and without merit.