Prosecutor 45 Minutes Late, Judge Throws Out Rape Case - U2 Feedback

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Old 06-21-2006, 08:39 AM   #1
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Prosecutor 45 Minutes Late, Judge Throws Out Rape Case

Sounds like perhaps that judge might have been a little perturbed at that prosecutor because he "challenged" her in that way. Nothing like letting your ego come before a child's right to justice for allegedly being raped.

CLEVELAND -- A Cuyahoga County, Ohio, judge threw out the charge against a man accused of raping a girl six years ago when the prosecutor in the case was 45 minutes late to trial.

Prosecutors have filed an appeal and said, if necessary, they will refile the charge against Norman Allen Craig, 22, of North Ridgeville, Ohio.

The mother of the now 16-year-old Rocky River girl said her daughter feels victimized by the judge's decision.

Common Pleas Judge Eileen Gallagher dismissed the case when Assistant County Prosecutor Mark Schneider had not shown up by 1:45 p.m. June 12, after she told both sides to be in court at 1 p.m.

Schneider was in his office preparing an appeal seeking to prevent the judge from continuing with the trial.

Earlier in the day, Schneider had asked the judge to remove herself from the case, saying the judge said last year that she thought the accuser had credibility problems.

"Nobody should be rendering opinions from the bench before trial," Schneider said. "A child victim who's being put through the wringer deserves a fair shake at trial."

Gallagher said her decision to throw out the charge had nothing to do with the girl's credibility.

"It was all about the unprofessional actions of a prosecutor," she said. "You don't show up -- too bad. Don't treat me like a punk and not show up in court without giving us the courtesy of notifying us where you are."

County Prosecutor Bill Mason said calls were made to Gallagher's office, and she should have been aware of Schneider's pending arrival before deciding to throw out the case.

CLEVELAND (AP) -- The mother of a 16-year-old northeast Ohio girl says her daughter feels even more victimized after a judge threw out the case against the man accused of raping her because the prosecutor was late for court.

Cuyahoga County prosecutors have filed an appeal. They say if that doesn't work, they will refile the charge against Norman Allen Craig, who the Rocky River girl says raped her six years ago.
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Old 06-21-2006, 08:50 AM   #2
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The judge and the prosecutor went on Nancy Grace

GRACE: Joining us right now, Judge Eileen Gallagher. She is with the common pleas bench in Ohio. Judge Gallagher, thank you for being with us.

JUDGE EILEEN GALLAGHER: Good evening, Miss Grace.

GRACE: Why did you throw the case out of court?

GALLAGHER: The case was originally set for trial at 9:00 o`clock that morning, and the state`s witness, the alleged victim in this case, did not appear at the court until nearly 11:00 o`clock in the morning. After we conducted some conferences in chambers, the trial was reset for 1:00 o`clock in the afternoon. The prosecutor failed to appear at that time. And quite frankly, I don`t know if the victim was around, either. The case was called for trial. The state was not prepared to proceed, and...

GRACE: How do you know the state was not prepared if the state wasn`t there?

GALLAGHER: Well, they weren`t there.

GRACE: So they...

(CROSSTALK)

GALLAGHER: They weren`t prepared to...

GRACE: And you don`t know if the victim was there or not.

GRACE: She was there two hours late in the morning. I don`t know where she was in the afternoon.

GRACE: So for all you know, she was waiting at home.

GALLAGHER: She could have been.

GRACE: OK. Well, actually, something that you mentioned, it`s a quote from you, Judge -- "You don`t show up, too bad. Don`t treat me like a punk and not show up in court without giving us the courtesy of notifying us where you are." And you`re talking about the prosecutor.

GALLAGHER: Right.

GRACE: Why did you throw the case out because the prosecutor was late?

GALLAGHER: Well, the prosecutor presents the state -- presents the case on behalf of the state of Ohio. He wasn`t there. There`s no one else to handle his case.

(CROSSTALK)

GRACE: Well, Judge, I`m looking at the case summary, and you have already allowed not one, two, three, four, five, but six continuances on this case. Six times, you have allowed further notices. So instead of reprimanding the lawyer, you thought it was better to throw out a rape case, where the victim was 9 years old?

GALLAGHER: Well, We take all of our felony cases very seriously here, and if you want to know what happened with those continuances, they were granted because the state of Ohio, the prosecutor, failed to provide discovery for the defense. Also during that same timeframe, the prosecutor`s father was very ill and unfortunately died at a very young age. We were extremely accommodating to him.

GRACE: So your answer is to throw the case out of court?

GALLAGHER: Well, you`re suggesting that I granted continuances improperly. The only continuance made by the court was after I had lasix eye surgery and couldn`t see for two months. And that was the only time that the court continued the case. The state of Ohio failed to, again, play by the rules in providing discovery to the defense, and that was...

GRACE: Sounds like a whole lot of excuses! And your answer was to punish a 9-year-old victim!

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GALLAGHER: (INAUDIBLE) was absolutely unprofessional. They never called, and had they called, it certainly would have been a different situation.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GRACE: A Cleveland sitting judge, Judge Eileen Gallagher, throws out a felony rape case. At the time of the alleged rape, the victim just 9 years old. Why? Because the prosecution was late to court. And there`s no doubt about that. The state was late to court. But throw out a rape case, for Pete`s sake?

Elizabeth, do we still have the judge with us? Judge, thank you for staying with us. I have in my hand a motion filed by the defense, and this is a response to the Department of Family Services. And in this, it states that you, the court, acknowledged this little girl victim had, quote, "credibility problems." Did you say that?

GALLAGHER: What I said was, because I had to review those documents in camera alone, and in order to provide them to the defense, I have to provide a reason why they should be given to the defense. And in view of the fact that this child had made a number of inconsistent statements to the Department of Children and Family Services, those documents were then turned over to the defense.

GRACE: Well, isn`t that the reason you turned over the documents, the fact that the alleged victim made inconsistent statements? That`s a part of Brady -- in other words, evidence that could help the defense.

GALLAGHER: Right.

GRACE: She makes inconsistent statements. But why do you take it upon yourself to comment this child had credibility problems? Isn`t that the sole province of the jury?

GALLAGHER: Well, it is and it isn`t. I had...

GRACE: Then why did you comment on it?

GALLAGHER: It`s apples and oranges here, Nancy. I have to do those in-camera inspections of records, and thereafter, if I hear the case, I have to rule a verdict based upon the evidence presented in the courtroom only.

GRACE: Yes, ma`am. I understand that. And I understand that you must hand over inconsistent statements, if they exist, but to comment on the victim`s credibility?

GALLAGHER: I had to tell them why...

GRACE: Is that grounds for recusal?

GALLAGHER: ... I was giving them those documents.

GRACE: Because of inconsistent statements. You didn`t have to go the extra mile and comment on the girl`s credibility, did you?

GALLAGHER: I did not comment on her credibility. I said that there were inconsistencies in her statement.

GRACE: Well, that`s not what this filing says.

GALLAGHER: Well, I...

GRACE: Both the state and the defense agree that you said that.

GALLAGHER: Well...

GRACE: Welcome back, everybody. I want to go straight back out to a principal in this case, Mark Schneider, the assistant prosecutor. Sir, could you please explain why your case was thrown out of court?

SCHNEIDER: ... thrown out of court because a judge made a ruling from the bench about a victim`s credibility, a nine-year-old rape victim who was brutally assaulted, before she had taken one piece of evidence. That`s what this boils down to. We were just trying to get this girl a fair trial.

GRACE: OK, hold on just one moment. We had a problem with your satellite feed. Could you repeat that, sir?

SCHNEIDER: This case was thrown out of court because a judge made an opinion known that she had of a victim, that she thought a nine-year-old brutally-raped victim was unbelievable, and she made that known before she had taken one piece of evidence. Every action we took from that point forward was to give this girl the fair trial she deserved.

GRACE: Now, sir, let me just play devil`s advocate here for just one moment, as the judge has been kind enough to come on the show and be held in contempt, why were you late for court?

SCHNEIDER: At 12:00, after the judge had made her opinion known on a prior occasion, the defense only then decided to try their case to the one person who had already rendered an opinion. At that point...

GRACE: Whoa, whoa, whoa, wait. Let`s explain that to the viewers. Bottom line: You claim -- and I`m talking to the prosecutor in this case - - you claim that, after the judge stated this girl had credibility problems, a nine-year-old little girl, suddenly the defense wanted a bench trial. In other words, they didn`t want a jury anymore, right?

SCHNEIDER: That`s correct.

GRACE: OK, then what happened?

SCHNEIDER: And they wanted that judge, who had already stated her opinion, to determine guilt or innocence in this case. At that point, we`re faced with a two-edged sword. We could go forward and let this case get thrown out of court by this judge or we could seek to get this girl a fair trail. We could seek to get this girl justice.

When I turned to that girl and explained the consequences, she asked me to fight for her, and I wasn`t about to let her down. And this office wasn`t going to let her down.

GRACE: Whoa, whoa, whoa, Mr. Schneider. With us, Mark Schneider, assistant prosecutor there in Cleveland, are you telling me the girl was in court? Because Judge Gallagher seems to have a concern the girl didn`t show up to prosecute.

SCHNEIDER: This case was set for trial six times. Two of those continuances were occasioned by the state; the other four were by either the court or the defense. In fact, we had been on hold due to the defense`s unavailability for four days.

It was set for a jury trial. That victim was ready to appear in court as early as 10:00 once we picked a jury. It was only after the judge had heard from the victim -- she knew the victim was there -- that the defense wanted to have the judge decide this case. And at that point, we were set to scramble and fight for this little girl.
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Old 06-21-2006, 09:47 AM   #3
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reads like a bad crime novel
unbelievable
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Old 06-21-2006, 11:32 AM   #4
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Judges have far more power than we can imagine. How many lives will be affected by her snap decision?
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Old 06-21-2006, 07:47 PM   #5
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i think lawyers should have more power.
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Old 06-21-2006, 08:26 PM   #6
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I hope they prosecution's appeal is heard and the girl is able to have her day in court. I do NOT agree with the judge's actions in this case
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Old 06-21-2006, 08:32 PM   #7
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They should throw the judge in jail for awhile.
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Old 06-21-2006, 11:42 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally posted by nbcrusader
Judges have far more power than we can imagine. How many lives will be affected by her snap decision?
Seems they have more than they are equipped to deal with, too.

This is appalling.
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Old 06-22-2006, 09:38 AM   #9
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So if a prosecutor fears they may lose a case it's better to just not show up and have it all just disappear?

Why hasn't the judge held that lawyer in contempt and tossed her into jail?

In addition to a slap in the face for the victim, what a waste of time and money to have this dumbass decision overturned on appeal.
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Old 06-22-2006, 12:02 PM   #10
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Prosecutors don't bring cases unless they think they are going to win (that is how you maintain a 90%+ conviction rate).
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Old 06-22-2006, 12:10 PM   #11
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Actually yeah, I misread the article. The prosecutor wanted the judge off the case and baited her to do something stupid.

There must be a proper process for getting a biased judge off a case?
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Old 06-22-2006, 01:21 PM   #12
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So the court has made a judgement prior to hearing the case. Really looks like this girl is going to get a fair trial...not. Get her off.

But wasting the courts time to such an extent is unforgiveable, I think I'd be tempted to say piss-off and re-file. Tough on the girl but her problem is the the prosecutor not on the court.
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Old 06-22-2006, 01:44 PM   #13
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Originally posted by adrball
So the court has made a judgement prior to hearing the case. Really looks like this girl is going to get a fair trial...not. Get her off.

But wasting the courts time to such an extent is unforgiveable, I think I'd be tempted to say piss-off and re-file. Tough on the girl but her problem is the the prosecutor not on the court.
Yeah, I agree. The courts are suppose to be unbiased, yet here we're all biased in favor of the victim, whereas if we get speeding tickets, go to court, and the police officer doesn't show, the ticket is thrown out and we're happy.

Personally, I think this case needs to be assigned to a new judge. The prosecutor can be punished for being in contempt, but the case should not just be thrown out because the judge is annoyed with the process of the litigation.
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Old 06-22-2006, 01:51 PM   #14
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I think this judge is annoyed with the prosecutor challenging her (im)partiality-she has no business letting her ego come before justice. There were many other delays in this trial, yet she suddenly has a problem because he was late?

She also had no business making statements about the credibility of the alleged victim.

Doesn't exactly help rape victims to be willing to go through with going to court, which is excruciating enough for them already.
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Old 06-22-2006, 02:03 PM   #15
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This is absurd. The guy raped a girl and now he's free on a time technicality. Disgusting.
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