The phone rang in Vermont. It was 7:30 Halloween night, 2007.
“Hi, this is Lt. Tonelli, of the Solon, Ohio Police Department. I’m looking for a Mr. Robert Grundstein.”
I said that was me.
“We have a complaint from a judge’s wife that you were seen on their property.”
That’s odd. I hadn’t been to Ohio since early August. Prior to that, I was there in April of 2007 to distribute an editorial I wrote about former Judge Peter Junkin. He mauled a case of mine, and I passed out a criticism on the steps of the Bedford Municipal Court during business hours. I felt he was representative of a failed system that chooses judges on the basis of politicized elections and insufficient screening.
“Sorry, I haven’t been there. must be some mistake.”
“Well, thank you, Mr. Grundstein. We just have to check on complaints. Have a good evening.”
Forty-five minutes later, the Vermont State Police knocked. I opened the door to find an officer standing 5 feet from the threshold along the exterior wall in a manner to avoid gun shots through the door. I know the Vermont State Police. I helped them with an undercover drug investigation concerning some tenants I had who were involved with methamphetamine. There were two of them. Officer Julie Hammond and a man.
“Hi, Bob, mind if we come in?”
“No, not at all. What’s up?”
“Well, we have a warrant for your extradition to Ohio. You are accused of a second-degree felony. you’ll have to stop cooking your dinner and come with us.”
I turned off the stove and listened to the cooking sounds of my meat wane. They took a set of handcuffs from a belt and apologized for the necessary security. I presented my hands forward. I didn’t know how to do this.
They grinned and apologized again. “Sorry, your hands have to go behind.”
On the way over, the officer showed me evidence on which Ohio relied. It claimed an event in April 2003. I had automatic-teller-machine receipts to prove I wasn’t in Ohio before, during or after that time.
We drove past the landscape that had been domestic to me for over 35 years. The benevolence of this place and our lives had never seen the police. This was something that happened in another entirely different, existential matrix.
I went to the University of Michigan. My father was a professor of law and advanced management. Our friends were judges and law teachers. Criminals were furtive outsiders.
I was taken to a medium-security prison in St. Johnsbury, VT. The staff couldn’t have been nicer. They helped me with the new procedures like blowing into something that registered chemical substances. A friend who clerked for Justice David H. Souter on the New Hampshire Supreme Court drove over and bailed me out.
I proceeded to draft my own writ of habeas corpus.
BAIL AND MORE ARRESTS
I called the bail commissioner in Ohio. he didn’t have confidence in the charges and said he’d let me go on my own recognizance after I came in for an arraignment. I got permission from the Vermont court to leave the state and traveled to Cleveland. I spent a day in a holding cell and was transferred to a different jail in Chagrin Falls on an additional charge of aggravated menacing in the jurisdiction of Bedford Municipal Court. I paid bail and went back to Vermont. The aggravated-menacing charges were dismissed two months later with an entry of “dismissed, not guilty” after a conference with Prosecutor Thomas Hanculak.
I hired an attorney and explained the situation. I wasn’t in Ohio at the time charged. In addition, the grand jury actually delivered a “no bill” against me. A detective illegally represented the same evidence a second time to get desired results.
Four pretrials were scheduled prior to trial on March 11, 2008. Nothing was ever discussed at the pretrials, but I had to drive from Vermont for them. The docket reflects that I asked for continuances after each meeting, but that’s a fraud. Local rule 23(h) requires a defendant to personally sign all requests for continuances. I didn’t sign any. I just drove back and forth from Vermont.
The clerk of the courts has a default docket setting which charged all continuances to defendant, whether or not there is compliance with the rule. This foils any defendant’s right to a speedy trial.
In the meantime, the prosecutor refused to drop charges. He answered none of my briefs, and the judge refused to rule on any of my motions. The rules for superintendence of the courts require a judge to rule on a motion within 120 days.
My attorney had a friendly leak in the prosecutor’s office. Apparently, Judge Junkin called someone in the Cuyahoga County Sheriff’s Office. Information to the grand jury was falsified. Cuyahoga County Prosecutor William Mason’s office refused to drop the charges or acknowledge exculpatory-alibi evidence and the statute of limitations.
I refused to take a plea. Trial was set for March 11, 2008.
EVEN MORE ARRESTS
Prior to my departure for trial, I received a call from a detective in North Royalton. A prosecutor named Joseph O’Malley was bringing charges for aggravated menacing and telephonic harassment in Parma Municipal Court. I explained that these charges were dismissed with an entry of not guilty. The detective said he had to follow the prosecutor, and bail would only take five minutes.
An ice storm covered northern Vermont the day before the trial. I begged for a continuance. The bailiff spat an angry threat and said I’d be arrested if I didn’t to trial. I drove all night and, at pre-dawn, stopped to pay bail at the North Royalton Police Station, where I was arrested.
I asked why I was being arrested. The officer said, although I had the $700.00 cash, I had two offenses of $350.00 bail each, and I offered seven $100.00 bills. They don’t make change. I was held for a while and let go. I just made it to trial on time.
Absolutely nothing happened. I sat in the 17th floor of the Justice center in Cleveland between 9:30 am and 4:30 pm. No one spoke to me, I saw many people with whom I was acquainted in the judge’s courtroom. I was asked to leave when they started to close at the end of the day. I walked to Bill Mason’s office. They said they knew nothing of a trial and that they weren’t allowed to speak with me.
Three more trials were scheduled in June, September and October of 2008. They were all canceled after I arrived from Vermont.
I also had to attend four more pretrials from Vermont at which nothing was produced or revealed and at which there was no new analysis or meetings before a judge.
In October of 2008, I agree to pay a $50.00 fine if they would leave me alone. I wasn’t able to work for the past year and lost many friends and acquaintances. My name appeared in several local papers and “Fugitive Wanted” posters at the small, wood-floor local markets. there was also Internet coverage.
In late 2007, an anonymous letter from Cleveland was sent to the state of my Bar telling the Bar Association that I was subject to criminal charges.
Simultaneous with the extradition charges, I was traveling back and forth for the aggravated-menacing charges to Parma Municipal Court. The judge refused to acknowledge that identical charges had been dismissed and “not guilty” entered in the record in Bedford Municipal Court. There was no change of venue claimed pursuant to Ohio Criminal Rule 18. The charges were just being re-litigated as a favor for someone very powerful.
Once again, I was forced to accept a plea in a secret agreement made outside the hearing of a judge. Prosecutor O’Malley agreed to a low misdemeanor charge, disorderly conduct, but recorded a much more alarming “menacing” charge on the docket. I was dealing with practiced liars in charge of a justice system.
I tried to get an attorney for the Parma hearing. no one would touch the case. An attorney names Kevin Spellacy agreed to do it, then sent me an email telling me to “lose my email, forget my name, never call me again.”
Former North Royalton Prosecutor Robert Sindyla took the case and a retainer. After a month, he sent my money back and said he couldn’t take the case. A third attorney looked into it and said, “I can’t take this. Somebody or a group of very powerful somebodies are after you. I can’t afford to be associated with you.”
I read the Parma file in detail. Buried in the file was a correspondence in which Prosecutor Hanculak, with whom I made the “not guilty-dismissed” plea agreement, encouraged a retrial and denied defenses against it. This violated the plea agreement.
During this interval, my mother died, and I had abdominal surgery. It was impossible to work, and I went broke. It was becoming common for attorneys in unrelated actions to use the accumulated charges against me.
JUDGE LILLIAN GREENE
The reader may ask why I didn’t appeal or apply for a writ against illegal actions without jurisdiction. If I wasn’t in Ohio, there is no territorial jurisdiction to hear an action. Surely, an independent appellate review would vindicate these abuses. Right?
I had been banned from the courts of Ohio in 2005 during the first case I ever filed in Ohio. It came after a successful appeal in 2004 and remand to Judge Lillian Greene in defense of a newly created 87-year-old widow who was my mother.
I files a case in 2002 to retrieve money for my mother, who consigned collectibles to Wolf’s Gallery Inc. -George Bielert. Wolf’s realized $25,000 from the sale, any my mother received nothing. I drove in from Vermont to file on her behalf.
An identical case was being heard in Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Judge Janet R. Burnside’s courtroom.
My original case was dismissed on a procedural basis, and I conducted a successful appeal. The case was reassigned to Judge Greene. Opposing counsel never filed an answer, after 2 1/2 years. I made a motion for default judgment, which was denied.
Two months later, opposing counselmade a motion to have me declared “vexatious” under Ohio Revised Code 2323.52 and subject to filing restrictions. This can’t be done by motion. It takes a new action. In addition, I never met any of the criteria under the statute.
Judge Greene granted the motion without a hearing. In a later order, the dunce said she “didn’t even want to get into legal and procedural issues.” Her unapologetic and slovenly court administration put her own convenience and laziness before the rights of a newly created widow. It’s also possible she was pandering to wealth associated with one of the investors in Wolf’s Gallery.
I filed a timely notice of appeal, filing fee and brief. Oral arguments were set in the 8th District Court of Appeals for March of 2006. I drove in from Vermont and was told by the bank of judges that they changed their minds, and I couldn’t have an appeal after all. Oral arguments were canceled. there would be no contemplation of the merits. I argued that I had a statutory right of appeal under appellate rules and the Ohio and federal constitutions. In addition, they were stopped from denying an appeal because they accepted my fee and brief, and I drove in from Vermont. Why let me drive in? They didn’t care.
This will be easy. I’ll just refer to the aloof and pristine nobility of Federal Court. Anyone there could see what an outrage this is. Ohio has to give me an appeal. I filed in Federal Court to enforce my right to statutory court procedures, which includes an appeal.
I was assigned Judge Donald Nugent, who made his career in the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor’s Office. That means “friend of county”.
Judge Nugent immediately dismissed the case without notice and hearing. he also imposed filing restrictions under the “All Writs Act,” which prohibit me from ever filing again in the federal district unless I meet certain conditions. These conditions include a copy of all orders from any case I ever files in the United States and a copy of any new complaint I wish to file with a brief proving its quality.
Judge Nugent neglected the requirement of notice and hearing prior to the imposition of filing restrictions under the “All Writs Act.” He also disregarded federal limitations on filing restrictions by which they are limited to further actions against a particular party pertinent to a resolved subject matter.
Judge Nugent made sure none of his friends in the county could be sued and held accountable for civil rights violations.
The judiciary of Cuyahoga County is an interest group, the focus of which is to maintain their income and status. Consensus will be maintained on the basis of race, religion and ethnicity against parties who hold them to a legal standard or as favors to another judge or prosecutor pursuing a criminal agenda against someone they don’t like.
The county has exempted itself from the legal and ethical culture of the Constitution. This is enabled at the federal level. I was recently revealed that convicted former Cuyahoga County Commissioner Jimmy Dimora called Judge Nugent for favors. You don’t ask unless you have a reason to be comfortable asking for favors.
More people need to be jailed. Lillian Greene, Peter Junkin, William Mason and the Cuyahoga Sheriff’s Office need to be exposed. The Eight District needs to be purged, and Judge Nugent should be charged under 42 USC 1985 for conspiracy to violate civil rights. A judge does not have immunity for acts done in violation of due process. He is an enabler who corrupted the means by which a decent standard is imposed on the state.
Judges cannot be chosen by election only. The judiciary cannot be politicized. Better screening has to take place, and they have to be rotated from jurisdiction to jurisdiction every 2 years. As it stands, judges will spend an entire career in one court, developing special relations with local attorneys, prosecutors, city administrators, police and others.
Finally, I was sure the candidates for county prosecutor would be outraged by this. They weren’t. the responses were deflating. James McDonnell took my call and refused to hear my story. he did not want to know and told me never to use his cell number again. Stephanie Hall and Robert Triozzi never returned my messages. Subodh Chondra was a practicing attorney at the time. He would not accept a retainer to file a civil-rights claim and referred me to another attorney in Cincinnati. Timothy J. McGinty’s staff listened, and I never heard from them again.
Story Written By Robert Grundstein