Nearly three months after the indictment of Mahoning County Auditor Michael V. Sciortino, the process of deciding whether he should be suspended from office is embroiled in a procedural dispute at the Ohio Supreme Court.
Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine has filed a complaint with the top court asking it to order the three-judge panel deciding whether to suspend Sciortino from office to follow the procedure DeWine says is prescribed by state law.
In legal parlance, the filing was titled a complaint for a writ of mandamus.
The panel of three retired judges ruled that Sciortino’s lawyer, John B. Juhasz, is entitled to participate fully in its suspension hearing as Sciortino’s legal representative. Not allowing full participation by defense counsel is a denial of due process, the panel ruled.
State law, however, says Sciortino has a right to be accompanied in the hearing by his lawyer, but that lawyer is not entitled to advocate for him, present evidence or examine or cross-examine witnesses, DeWine said in his Thursday filing.
The three-judge panel isn’t entitled to declare the state law an unconstitutional violation of due process, DeWine said.
DeWine is trying to get Sciortino suspended under a state law that allows suspension with pay of public officials charged with job-related felonies.
Sciortino was indicted May 14 on 16 felony counts and six misdemeanor counts for what prosecutors say was his role in trying to impede the move of Mahoning County’s Department of Job and Family Services from Cafaro Co.-owned rented quarters on Youngstown’s East Side to the county-owned Oakhill Renaissance Place.
Sciortino was indicted in this year’s case, along with John A. McNally, Youngstown mayor and a former county commissioner, and Atty. Martin Yavorcik. All three have pleaded innocent.
Read the complete story in Friday's Vindicator or on Vindy.com.