Wednesday, August 4, 2010

"And Don't Let the Door Hit You In the Ass . . . "

A Wadsworth, Ohio resident was so nettlesome that his hometown prosecuted him for harassment and banned him from city limits.  Plain Dealer (Cleveland, Ohio) reporter, Michael Sangiacomo has the following tale of modern day banishment:

"Jeffrey Aberegg hasn't set foot in his former hometown in nearly two years and would have been arrested on sight if he had.

A Wadsworth Municipal judge ordered Aberegg on Sept. 26, 2008, not to go on Wadsworth property after ruling that he was a nuisance. But the judge's order went too far, Aberegg's lawyer argued to the 9th Ohio District Court of Appeals. The appeals court has not ruled on the request but it doesn't have to.   The city agrees that Aberegg must be re-sentenced. He still won't be allowed to enter Wadsworth governmental offices, but he will be allowed back into the city where he lived from 1988 to 2003.

'I have not been able to go to the parade in Wadsworth for years,' he said. 'I miss that. I'm a handyman and I get calls from people in Wadsworth to do work, but I have to turn them down. It will be good to be able to go back into the city when I want to. I want closure.'

The trouble started in 2001 when Aberegg was going though a difficult divorce and other problems, including thefts from his handyman business. Aberegg, 50, of Barberton, admits that he was a bit insistent when he repeatedly contacted the Wadsworth police and the law director to complain about inaction by police on his complaints against his ex-wife and others he believe wronged him.

He also filed numerous lawsuits against the city and others.

The city said the calls were 'bizarre and threatening on some occasions' and so frequent that they interfered with the city's office staff getting work done.  Law Director Page Schrock III ordered Aberegg to stop calling city offices and warned that he would be arrested for harassment if he called again.  Aberegg believes his letters of complaint to the FBI and the Ohio attorney general's office about the official inaction prompted the warning.

Schrock's office denies that.

Aberegg said he complied, mostly, after receiving the warning. But he admitted calling the city a few more times. Then, he left a message in 2008 at the law director's office demanding the city compensate him for losses he suffered because of a false arrest.

That's when the city carried out its threat.

Aberegg was arrested for telecommunications harassment in May 2008. A jury convicted him four months later in Wadsworth Municipal Court. Judge Stephen McIlvaine suspended a jail sentence but, as condition of probation, ordered Aberegg to stay away.   'For the next five years, [Aberegg is] not to be on any property owned or operated by the city of Wadsworth including, but not limited to, City Hall, transfer station, WCTV, sanitary, engineering, fire station, police station or city parks,'  the judge ordered. 'He shall not call any city of Wadsworth office.'

Aberegg's original lawyer did not bring up the unusual sentence in his appeal, but it came to the attention of the public defender's office in Columbus. They asked in January that the appeal be reopened, calling the sentence a 'miscarriage of justice because banishment is so far outside of the normal and appropriate community-controlled conditions. Banishment simply cannot be ignored on appeal.'

'The judge ordered that he cannot set foot on any property at all owned by the city of Wadsworth,'  said Spencer Cahoon of the Ohio public defender's office. 'My reading was that he was not to set foot in the city itself, since that would include the streets and sidewalks. If he did, he could have gone to prison.  He was banished from the city,' he added. 'We really don't do that in the criminal court system.'

Schrock said that was not the intent.   'The intent was that he not be in City Hall, the court or our offices,' Schrock said. 'But since the city owns the streets and sidewalks as well, he could not use them either.'

Schrock agrees that the sentence needs clarification. The re-sentencing date has not been set.

'Since the city does not object to the ruling,' Cahoon said, 'we expect the Municipal Court to hand down a proper sentence.'"
I previously related the story of the client that I briefly represented who telephone harassed her estranged husband.  The lady, Carol Italianlastname, was diagnosed with a "borderline personality" disorder and was charged in multiple jurisdictions with "telephone harassment," of her ex- and others.  Her divorce attorney referred her to me to defend her in the pressing criminal case because I had developed a reputation for representing women with mental illness legacies.  I was able to obtain dismissal of the harassment charges against Carol based on the claim of marital privilege.  Carol subsequently refused to pay me to represent her in the city's appeal from the dismissal.  She hired new counsel, lost her appeal went to jail, sued me, and everyone else she ever encountered including the judges that presided over her cases.  After several years Carol's claims were dismissed and I've lost track of her. 

At some point in the "unfolding" of her illness Carol was deemed by the courts of OurState to have become a "vexatious litigator" and Carol was ordered to cease and desist filing lawsuits without prior permission of the courts.  Carol was not banished from her hoemtown or OurState.  We can all be relieved that banishment is reserved for use in Maricopa County, Arizona.


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