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« Stirfry

Be careful what you wish for

By Bertram de Souza (Contact)


Published December 28, 2005

Mahoning County Prosecutor Paul Gains couldn't have picked a worst moment to wake up from his hibernation. Gains' decision to take on Youngsrtown Municipal Court Judge Elizabeth Kobly over the issue of the county jail's inmate release mechanism can only result in bad things for him.

Judge Kobly may not win in the 7th District Court of Appeals, but she certainly will expose the prosecutor's soft legal underbelly. Any objective evaulation of Gains' tenure would lead to the conclusion that it has been mediocre at best.

By contrast, the municipal judge is hardworking, tough as nails and has no patience for political games.

As a result of Gains' securing an order from the appeals court, Kobly was prevented from holding a hearing at which Sheriff Randall Wellington would have had to explain why he ignored a "do not release order" she had placed on an inmate. The prosecutor is of the opinion that the municipal judges have no say when it comes to the status of prisoners because of jail operational procedures instituted by the judges of the common pleas court.

Judge Kobly isn't about to take such a snub lying down.

And now she has her sights set on Gains, who has lived a charmed political life ever since an inept mob contract killer missed at point-blank range. Gains was injured, but lived to take office and win re-election. By and large, his tenure as prosecutor has been forgettable.

Until now, that is. A Kobly-Gains court battle could be a defining moment for the prosecutor.


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