Saturday, January 2, 2010

Tough Judge, Sleeping Jurors



Kathleen Ann Sutula, of the Cuyahoga Common Pleas Court is frequently hailed as Ohio's toughest Judge if you can believe accounts in Cleveland local news media.  The soft focus pic to the right comes from the Judge's own website was created for her run for the open Probate Court seat in Cuyahoga County (I'm told she did not win.)   I'm also told that the picture belies the angry, bitter, scowling jurist who was dinged by the Court of Appeals in June of 2009 for, well, this is kind of unbelieveable, . . . so let me quote the excellent article by Leila Atassi in a year-end follow-up by the Plain Dealer of interesting stories from 2009:

"Whatever happened to the case of convicted killer Arif Majid, whom an appeals court granted a new trial because jurors slept through his first one? Cuyahoga County prosecutors asked the Ohio Supreme Court to overturn the appellate court's decision, arguing that Common Pleas Judge Kathleen Ann Sutula dealt with the matter at trial to the satisfaction of both parties. . .


If Majid's attorneys had a problem with the juror siestas, they should have spoken up at the time, prosecutors argued. But the high court declined to hear the case this month, allowing the appeal court decision to stand. The case is yet to be scheduled for retrial in Common Pleas Court, but a pretrial hearing is set for Jan. 6. . .

Majid, 35, was sentenced in 2007 to life in prison with a shot at parole after 35 years for fatally shooting Jerome Thomas in a Euclid bar and wounding three other men.

The 8th Ohio District Court of Appeals threw out his murder conviction in June because at least two jurors slept -- snoring loudly with mouth agape or head leaning against the wall -- through parts of the trial.

In its ruling, the appeals court accused Sutula of abusing her discretion in failing to realize that the slumbering jurors could not perform their duties and allowing them to participate in deliberations. According to the ruling, prosecutors tried to bring the problem to Sutula's attention five times during the trial.

'I saw it. So what? Let him sleep,' Sutula responded on one occasion near the end of the trial. 'You guys picked the jury. I didn't.'"

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Okay, Cleveland--here's your tough Judge.  Her bad attitude cost you the conviction of a killer, the costs of two appellate proceedings, and now you get to spend your tax dollars re-trying this man who is apparently a violent offender, because your "tough" judge didn't realize that criminal defendants have a right to jury trials--jurors who are conscious.  Oh, one other thing, Sutula told the Plain Dealer that her quoted remarks were taken out of context and that she, the Judge would order the transcript of the trial to provide context--so reporter Atassi, called up the Judge for the yearend follow-up, fortunately for readers of the Plain Dealer, Ms. Atassi did not hold her breath for a return call.  No contextualizing transcript has been forthcoming. 

As an aside, my Bad Lawyering over the years has taken me into this courthouse, it's in a 20 + story "Justice Center."  In talking about courtroom architecture, a subject I promise to revisit soon--I can attest that Judge Sutula's courtroom is nothing like the images at her campaign website.  There is no marble, the room is a carpeted vertically-paneled, artifically-lit hellish-place.  I can easily imagine the sleep-inducing effects of lunch on jurors trying to keep their eyes open in that environment.  A subject we will revist another day.

17 comments:

  1. I knew a lawyer, Eddie Clark, got yelled at by her in front of other lawyers and he muttered "bitch", she tried to have Ed jailed on contempt but she couldn't find anyone who swear they heard him say it.

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  2. This post deserves more comment, but you covered what needs to be said about as well as can be said I think. Is she still a judge ?

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  3. Stop picking on Judge Sutula, she let me out of jail when my lawyer asked her, nicely.

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  4. She is a perfect example of a corrupt system she is outlandish and totally unfair unless you have the funds to sway her otherwise.

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  5. She's a terrible person - both professionally and personally.

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  6. She claims to be a Republican but actually is a horrible attorney that knew she could not get along with anyone and decided to hide in the Court systems and get a guaranteed pension. If she is such a Republican let her give up her pension for a 401K and take a reduction in salary. Besides that, she ruins a lot of peoples lives because of her hostile attitude. I believe in punishment but she takes it overboard.

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  7. I did 18 months because of Judge Sutula. She wouldn't let me have a jury trial and wanted me to stand trial with her which of coarse she found me guilty. Now in the state I live in i'm in college working on my degree in paralegal studies and eventually my law degree so I can help people that have judges like Sutula.

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    1. Are you finished with school yet?

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    2. You served 18 months in jail? What law school are YOU going to?

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  8. I hope someday she's judged as harshly as she judges others.She has to be one of the most miserable poeple on this planet.

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  9. I have to stand before her tomorrow AGAIN. I swear I hate her, she is mean and unreasonable. I have to babies and work my ass off and im sure she will still try to throw in me jail for 6 months over some bullshit......she doesn't need to be a judge she is waaaayyyy to bitter for her own good!

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  10. I'm sure she is using in her campaign the supposed "Insurance Fraud" conviction against John Deskins, Jr. He left a car at a repair shop, then claimed it was stolen and got the insurance money. First, it wasn't his first or even second conviction, but she gave him 2 years probation. Then part of his probation is to stay clear of alcohol, BUT on his FB page, he has Brown's game photos of him drinking. Where is justice for OH???? When will this guy serve time??? Who is following up???? Obviously NOT her or his probation officer, Carlos Torres.

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  11. I don't know of anyone in a political theater who could not be critisized. Judge Sutula laid 20 years on my aspy son for pandering. My son is very cooperative with her court, and so was the prosecuter. So my son is with me. He just has to walk a staight line, as he does. He is in no way a threat to children. He just did aspy style puberty is all. I know that aspies are not prone to revisit trouble. The court has to view him chronologically, I have to deal with him developmentally. He is eternally a teenager although he is 23 years old. I am grateful for Judge Sutula's, and the prosecutor's cooperation in this matter.

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  12. Don't cry about judge sutula,she is elected by the people to try to send a message to criminals that if you end up in her courtroom,your done,my wife was kidnapped 16 years ago,and the piece of garbage that committed this crime is in prison thankfully,I commend judge sutula for being tough and doing a wonderful job.like they say if you can't do the time,don't commit the crime.thanks judge

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  13. Don't cry about judge sutula,she is elected by the people to try to send a message to criminals that if you end up in her courtroom,your done,my wife was kidnapped 16 years ago,and the piece of garbage that committed this crime is in prison thankfully,I commend judge sutula for being tough and doing a wonderful job.like they say if you can't do the time,don't commit the crime.thanks judge

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  14. She is a wretched human being. I was caught with a gram of marijuana, and charged with trafficking by police officers who entered my home without a warrant. She took the polices side because they had wrote in the police report that they were given permission even though they weren't given permission (considering they opened my front door and walked in) and it was completely illegal. My first offense and I had to plead guilty or she would send me to prison for two years. 5 years probation, 5 year license suspension, 90 AA meetings in 90 days, after the 90 day period 1 meeting every other day excluding Sundays, I was required to work 40 hours a week minimum (my job was 12am-8am mind you), submit to a drug test every month, no alcohol etc, and if I failed any of those things even ONCE my probo can be revoked and I will have to serve my original sentence of 2 years in prison. 21 years old, first offense, charged with a crime I did not commit, now a convicted felon. I did have marijuana, but that is a misdemeanor offense worthy of a fine. My life has been ruined because of this woman. Yeah, way to go electing someone who treats innocent people of petty crimes as murderers. She called me a monster, and said I deserve to rot in a cell.

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  15. Reading over the comments from the past to present she hasn't changed. When we are facing an epidemic and when you hear someone ask for help to change their life she doesn't care all she cares about is being a bully. The lawyers were afraid to talk, file motions said she is crazy she will get mad and use it against the defendant how do you get a fair trial or sentence when she is not upholding the law. How can someone in this position be allowed to have her own rules? I have never ever seen such a circus before in my life. She gives Cleveland a bad name and sends many off to stay in a broken system with no regard to humanity. Sad watching in her court room as one after another have no chance because the lawyers don't want to upset her.

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