Judge denies county’s attempt to dismiss claims in Desmond lawsuit

By Justin Wier



A visiting judge denied a motion by attorneys who represent the Mahoning County Prosecutor’s Office to dismiss counts in a lawsuit filed by a former assistant prosecutor.

Martin Desmond filed the lawsuit against the county, Prosecutor Paul Gains and chief assistant Prosecutor Linette Stratford in March. It accuses Gains and Stratford of defamation, intimidation and civil liability for criminal acts in connection with Desmond’s firing.

The motion, filed by the county’s attorneys, sought to dismiss 18 of 22 counts in the lawsuit and argued that Desmond couldn’t claim civil damages for violations of a criminal statute without a prior criminal conviction or plea.

Judge H.F. Inderlied Jr., however, disagreed in a ruling issued this week that allows the lawsuit to go forward as filed.

The case is one of several Desmond actions open before Judge Inderlied.

In April 2017, Gains said Desmond violated office policy by discussing a matter that no longer involved him with people outside the office, including a lawyer who sued the county in federal court.

Desmond alleges Gains fired him for his attempts to expose misconduct within the prosecutor’s office.

Stratford led an internal investigation that cleared the targets of Desmond’s allegations.

In addition to the civil suit, Desmond has appealed a decision by the State Personnel Board of Review that denied him whistle-blower status, and he filed a petition to release grand jury transcripts he alleges will expose a pattern of misconduct by county prosecutors.

Earlier this year, Judge Inderlied appointed Matthew Meyer, a Cuyahoga County assistant prosecutor, to preside over the petition for release of the grand jury transcripts.

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