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Judicial CP - January 2005

Corpun file 15008

Tribune Chronicle, Warren, Ohio, 25 January 2005

Spanking case jury is chosen

By Christopher Bobby
Tribune Chronicle

WARREN - Two teachers, two factory workers, a grandmother, a purchasing agent and a street department worker - some with children - were among those seated as jurors in the trial of James Martin, a former police officer charged in the spanking of teens.

Testimony Monday before the panel of six men and six women included a juvenile court magistrate and a municipal court prosecutor explaining the workings of legitimate diversion programs run by the courts for nonviolent, first-time offenders.

Martin, the former Fowler police chief, was running a diversion program for teens and young adults that township officials say was unsanctioned. He was indicted in May on 20 counts of dereliction of duty, 11 counts of assault, 12 counts of using a sham legal process and seven counts of unauthorized photography, all misdemeanor charges. He also faces two counts of theft in office, both fifth-degree felonies.

Most of the day in the Trumbull County Common Pleas courtroom of Judge Andrew Logan centered on jury selection and a battery of questions from prosecutors and Martin's defense attorney, who were seeking responses to questions about corporal punishment.

"Most were told to bend over and grab their ankles. One was paddled five times every week for three months," said Assistant Prosecutor David Toepfer, who is representing the state with assistant prosecutor Michael Burnett.

Toepfer told the jury in his opening that Martin kept traffic tickets of young motorists referred to him and circumvented the legal system that normally punishes teens with no more than a $50 fine and up to 90-day license suspension.

"This defendant told parents and teens they would face hundreds to thousands of dollars in fines, six-month suspension and insurance rates that would go through the roof," Toepfer said.

Toepfer also pointed out how officers using a search warrant went to Martin's home and grabbed a computerized video of the spankings from the former officer's bedroom.

"You're going to find him not guilty because you will see this program was successful. There was nothing secret about this program and nothing sinister about the tapes," said Dominic Vitantonio, who represent Martin.

The defense attorney said he plans to bring in diversion programs clients and their parents to explain how good the program worked. And Vitantonio said paddling was only one form of punishment along with washing police cruisers and fire trucks and memorizing 17 hard and fast rules.

Martin is free on $2,500 bond. He retired from the Howland Police Department in May, where he was a full-time captain, and resigned his position as part-time chief in Fowler a short time later.

While attorneys in court quizzed potential jurors on whether they swatted their own kids and whether they were paddled in school and by their parents, attorneys Alan Matavich and Sarah Kovoor sat in the courtroom and took notes.

The two lawyers have filed four civil rights lawsuits on behalf of clients who were paddled. The discovery process in their federal lawsuits has been stalled during the course of the trial which is expected to last a week.

Former Howland police Chief Steven Lamantia is due to testify first today about a warning he gave Martin at some point not to continue with the diversion program.

Children's Services Board officials investigated complaints of the paddlings and, according to Vitantonio, recommended discontinuing the program while finding that no law was ever broken.

Corpun file 15016

The Vindicator, Youngstown, Ohio, 26 January 2005

Lamantia intervened in 1993

Martin had more letters of appreciation in his personnel file than any officer

WARREN — Howland Township officials' concern about juvenile paddlings in a diversion program prompted James Martin's removal from that program in 1993, former Police Chief Steve Lamantia testified Tuesday.

Lamantia did not, however, put these concerns into a written directive to Martin.

Lamantia retired from Howland in 2003 after 10 years as chief. He was called upon Tuesday by David Toepfer, an assistant Trumbull County prosecutor, in the case against the retired cop, who is accused of paddling many juveniles.

Martin retired last year as Fowler Township's part-time chief and also as a full-time captain in the Howland Police Department.

Lamantia was told by township trustees during the last phase of his hiring process in 1993 that there's "something we want you to do right off the bat ... Stop Capt. Martin's diversion program," Lamantia testified. "They had tried to get it stopped before by the previous chief, and they found out it wasn't."

Lamantia met with Martin on his first day as chief, Feb. 8, 1993, told him about the trustees' concerns, and was told by Martin that at times he did paddle juveniles.

"I said, 'Why in the heck are you doing that? My God, that's wrong," Lamantia testified.

Lamantia, who also has 30 years' Ohio State Highway Patrol experience, continued, "There is nothing, no guidelines, no operations, that [say] police, law enforcement at any level has a right to paddle."

Martin responded that no one had ever told him it was wrong, the retired chief noted.

"It was a very rough meeting for both Jim and I," Lamantia recalled of the session. "The impression I got was that he felt very let down."

Parental approval

Martin told his boss he had parents' approval. Lamantia then asked where the paddle was kept. The thick wooden paddle, similar to a fraternity paddle, was kept in Martin's office.

"I said, 'Take the paddle, take it home, get it out of here,'" Lamantia testified. "I said, 'The diversion program's done; you're no longer a juvenile officer.'"

Defense attorney Dominic Vitantonio had Lamantia read through the subsequent Feb. 16, 1993, written directive stopping the diversion program and removing Martin from it. Lamantia agreed that the document does not tell Martin paddling is wrong. It discusses replacing an antiquated diversion program and restructuring supervisory staff.

"You never as chief indicated officially with any document within the police department ... that it was wrong or not acceptable, is that a fact?" Vitantonio asked.

"That's a fact," Lamantia responded.

Vitantonio has said his client operated the diversion program in an attempt to help juveniles stay out of trouble. Lamantia then testified that Martin's personnel file attested to the program's effectiveness, and acknowledged Martin had more letters of appreciation from parents and children in his file "than any other officer."

Case history

Judge Andrew Logan of Trumbull County Common Pleas Court is presiding over the jury trial. Martin pleaded innocent in May 2004 to 20 misdemeanor counts of dereliction of duty, 11 counts of assault, 12 counts of sham legal process and seven counts of unauthorized photography. He also faces two counts of theft in office, fifth-degree felonies. He has been free on $2,500 bond.

According to a 1993 internal investigation conducted by Lamantia, Martin admitted paddling about 20 juveniles at the Howland police department from 1975 to 1992, as part of the juvenile diversion program. They all were male.

Lamantia sent letters in 1993 to the Trumbull County prosecutor's office and Trumbull County Children Services Board asking for an opinion on Martin's use of corporal punishment.

A Jan. 27, 1993, letter from children services to Martin states there was no evidence to support an allegation of child abuse. The letter, however, recommends that Martin eliminate paddling or the use of any other form of physical discipline as an option in his diversion program. State and federal officials began investigating Martin's juvenile diversion program in March 2004. The program, which diverted offenders from the court system, was being operated out of the Fowler Township Police Department.

The theft-in-office charges state Martin took a police file, videotapes, physical evidence and diversion program files from 1975-92 from the Howland Township Police Department. The records were stored in his basement, the indictment states.

©  2005 A service of The Vindicator.

Corpun file 15017

Tribune Chronicle, Warren, Ohio, 27 January 2005

Teens testify against chief

By Christopher Bobby
Tribune Chronicle

WARREN - Several teens Wednesday gave jurors their impressions about being paddled while enrolled in an unsanctioned diversion program run by the former Fowler police chief.

Parents also testified about signing wavier slips that gave permission for their children to be hit with a paddle as one of the conditions of the program, even if the young offenders followed all the rules laid out for them.

Former Fowler police Chief James Martin is standing trial in Trumbull County Common Please Judge Andrew Logan's courtroom on a host of charges connected to his operation of the program. Martin remains free on $2,500 bond since he was indicted in May on 20 counts of dereliction of duty, 11 counts of assault, 12 counts of using a sham legal process and seven counts of unauthorized photography, all misdemeanor charges; and two counts of theft in office, both fifth-degree felonies.

Martin retired from his captain's rank in the Howland Police Department in May and resigned his position in Fowler a short time later.

One young traffic offender said he decided to accept one more paddling rather than wash an additional police cruiser.

Richie Woolf, a 16-year-old Vienna boy found speeding on state Route 193 with three friends in his car last January, said he had no problems with Martin's orders to maintain at least a C-average in school and obey the school rules while attending all classes. He agreed to a curfew, but his mother, Carol, told Martin her son still was below par in cleaning his bedroom and occasionally argued with his sister, sometimes calling her a moron.

But the first time he attended Martin's diversion program at the Fowler Police Station and was paddled, Richie said he had enough.

"The pain was excruciating. It hurt all night. I couldn't go through that anymore. I'd rather go to court than be hit again," Richie said.

Richie and his mother told jurors they were lured into the program by Martin, who told them they would be fined heavily, face a long license suspension and considerably higher auto insurance premiums.

The mother and son explained that after Richie ran from the police station crying on a Friday, she talked with women at her church on Sunday and consulted an attorney on Monday and was advised not to take her son back to the program.

It was within a month or two after that that Martin became the subject of an FBI and then Howland Township investigation, according to Howland police Chief Paul Monroe.

Monroe testified as soon as he heard about the program, he began to investigate, eventually gaining a warrant to search Martin's home, finding police files and diversion program records - which constitute the only two felony counts of theft in office that Martin now faces.

It was Martin's attorney, Dominic Vitantonio, who cross-examined teens and parents, quizzing them on civil lawsuits they filed against Martin, Howland and Fowler townships.

"I don't know the exact amount of damages," Mrs. Woolf told the defense attorney. "I'm not sure what would be fair."

Vitantonio said in his opening Monday that parents were fine with the program until they heard of lawsuits being prepared and then all wanted money rather than rehabilitated kids.

Assistant Prosecutor David Toepfer said more teens, some of whom have since turned 18 or older, will continue testifying today. He said he hopes to complete his case and rest before the end of the week.

The state's witness list included more than 30 witnesses, and slightly more than half have taken the stand.

Corpun file 15014

The Vindicator, Youngstown, Ohio, 27 January 2005

Paddling program was too severe, 11th-grader testifies

The defense lawyer made note that the program was voluntary

WARREN — Richard Woolf says his parents never hit him, so he was surprised by how hard he was paddled by a police officer.

Those first three swats administered in January 2004 by James Martin at the Fowler Township Police Department, where he was part-time chief, were "probably the hardest I've ever been hit in my life," Woolf said.

The Mathews High School 11th-grader from Vienna said the experience made him cry.

For the prosecution

Woolf testified Wednesday for the prosecution in Martin's jury trial in Trumbull County Common Pleas Court. Outside in the hall, at least two other young men waited to possibly be called to testify.

Woolf said he got involved in Martin's juvenile diversion program after he was ticketed for speeding and was referred to the program. He and his mother were told by Martin there would be stiff fines and higher insurance to pay if the case went to court, Woolf recalled under questioning by David Toepfer, an assistant Trumbull County prosecutor.

Part of the program involved following and reciting 17 rules of conduct. Among the punishments suggested was paddling.

"He suggested it to me," Woolf testified. "He said, 'Well, what about swats?'

"I said, 'Well, my parents never hit me, but if that's what we have to do, that's what we have to do.'"

He and his mother signed a document agreeing to the program. However, Woolf testified he was unaware his paddling was being videotaped by Martin.

The youth said he was taken into Martin's office and told to stand beside a desk, pull down his pants, bend over and grab his ankles.

"He told me if I moved, he'd hit me again. If I wiggled around, he'd hit me again," Woolf testified.

He initially went along because he had been warned about fines and thought the program would keep him out of trouble. "It seemed like it was the right thing to do. I mean, it was a police officer, so I didn't see anything wrong with it," Woolf said.

He put up with it for a week, then said he felt the paddling was too severe.

Still, defense attorney Dominic Vitantonio had Woolf agree, "There's no question you voluntarily entered into this program."

Chief unaware of program

Judge Andrew Logan is presiding over the jury trial. Martin pleaded innocent in May 2004 to 20 misdemeanor counts of dereliction of duty, 11 counts of assault, 12 counts of sham legal process and seven counts of unauthorized photography. He also faces two counts of theft in office, fifth-degree felonies.

Paul Monroe, Howland police chief since 2003, has known Martin 20 years. Martin also was a full-time captain in the Howland department, in charge of all uniform operations and day turn. He has since retired from both Fowler and Howland.

Monroe said he was unaware Martin was running a juvenile diversion program until an FBI agent told him about it in March 2004. Martin had been told in 1993 by Steve Lamantia, a former Howland chief, to stop the program.

Monroe subsequently interviewed two males at Howland High School who had participated in the program and one produced a speeding ticket issued by Martin.

There was no record at the Howland Police Department of that ticket being issued, and Martin had no authority to take the young man to a diversion program in Fowler, Monroe testified.

Monroe termed "absurd" the notion that a Howland officer could take juvenile traffic offenders to Fowler and spank them.

He termed Martin's program in Fowler "a sham" legal process, a serious error in judgment and a crime. He said it would be unlawful on grounds of dereliction of duty and assault.

Referrals to a juvenile diversion program are based solely on guidelines from the Trumbull County Family Court, he explained. All juvenile traffic citations go to this court; Howland runs a sanctioned program through its administrative offices, separate from the police, to keep the process objective.

Once the officer writes the ticket, he has no discretion but to turn it in to the court, Monroe said.

©  2005 A service of The Vindicator.

Corpun file 15265

logo (WKBN/WYFX-TV), Youngstown, Ohio, 27 January 2005

Trumbull County

Martin Case

To James Martin, it was a look back at the kids he thought needed special help.  Kids like Jared Scott, ticketed for speeding and driving recklessly in Howland two years ago.  Rather than go to court, Martin convinced he [sic] and his mother to put him in his diversion program.  Since Martin was a full-time captain in the Howland Police department as well as the chief in Fowler, patrol officers were told to funnel certain tickets his way.

Part of his program, was a spanking.  For Scott, it was 8 swats with the paddle. Robert McCrystal got 16 whacks for fighting and threatening a fellow student.

But Martin's attorney showed the boys, and their parents, signed documents indicating they approved the spanking.  Sometimes, the young offenders even suggested more swings of the paddle, but Martin scaled it back.

All content © Copyright 2000 - 2005 WorldNow and WKBN. All Rights Reserved.

Corpun file 15019

The Plain Dealer, Cleveland, Ohio, 28 January 2005

Paddling was punishment in youth program


By James Ewinger
Plain Dealer Reporter

Warren -- James Martin's law-enforcement career is over, and the rest of his future depends on the testimony of young men who say he paddled their bottoms illegally when he was a senior police official in two Trumbull County townships.

Many of the alleged victims and their parents have testified this week in the jury trial before Common Pleas Judge Andrew Logan.

Martin is accused of running what his lawyer terms a diversion program, a sort of pre-emptive probation program that many courts use for first-time offenders and minor crimes.

But the case against Martin says his was outside the scope of any legal authority, and testimony suggests that he manipulated the boys and young men into accepting the paddling.

In cross examination Thursday, defense attorney Dominic Vitantonio got many of the state's witnesses to admit that Martin gave them a choice, and some acknowledged that he acted in their best interest, going so far as to ban tobacco products and insisting that they get good grades and obey their parents while they were in the program.

Assistant county prosecutors David Toepfer and Mike Burnett have called 32 witnesses in the trial that began Monday, and they are expected to put their last ones - possibly as few as four - on the stand today.

Martin is on trial on 20 counts of dereliction of duty, 11 assault charges, 12 counts of sham legal process and two counts of theft in office. All but the theft charges are misdemeanors.

The theft charges allege that he took video of the paddlings from the police station. The video images were found in his bedroom, labeled "Swat Train," said Sarah Thomas Kovoor, a lawyer and former prosecutor representing five of the young men who have filed civil suits against Martin. Those suits are in federal court and have been stayed until the criminal case is over.

In fact, the entire case has evolved into a bar association in miniature. In addition to the lawyers in the criminal case, there are the lawyers representing the young men in the civil suits, lawyers for the townships, legal counsel for Martin in those suits, and still more lawyers for the insurance company covering each township.

Martin was a full-time captain in Howland Township and retained that job when he became part-time chief in adjacent Fowler Township. Lawyers in the civil suits say that when Howland hired a new chief in 1993, he ordered Martin to stop the "diversion" program. Martin resumed the practice when he became the chief in Fowler in 1997, and he resigned from both positions last year.

According to testimony Thursday, two boys ticketed for a traffic offense in Howland in 2003 were contacted by someone identifying himself as a Howland officer. They were given a chance to avoid jail time, fines or a record by enrolling in Martin's "diversion" program in Fowler.

Christian Mikusevich testified Thursday that he did not want the swats, but Martin's suggested alternative was four hours of cleaning the Fowler police station each Thursday for weeks - including shoveling the parking lot, washing the cruisers and cleaning the toilets with a toothbrush.

He chose to take the paddling instead, he said, "to get it over with."

Kovoor said Martin either misstated the possible criminal penalties the victims could face, or exaggerated by telling them the actual maximum sentence, even though it probably would not apply to first offenders.


Copyright 2005 All Rights Reserved.

Corpun file 15589

The Vindicator, Youngstown, Ohio, 28 January 2005

Teens say program worked as a deterrent

The rules centered on hard work, honesty and community service

WARREN — Young men continued to testify Thursday that participation in James Martin's juvenile diversion program helped them toe the line and behave — even if it hurt.

Their parents, however, said they were concerned about the "swats" and videotapings by Martin, Fowler Township's police chief at the time.

The diversion program involved a lot of rules, the parents and teens said: work details, doing chores, community service, good grades, honesty, no smoking, no baggy clothes, curfews, grounding, staying out of trouble — and paddling.

Jonathan Romine, 17, of Fowler testified in Trumbull County Common Pleas Court that sometimes the threat of consequences helped him to toe the line and listen.

He got into trouble in August 2002 with a teenage pal, Chad Greathouse of Youngstown, for shooting at six moving cars with a BB gun. They and their parents were given the choice by Martin to join his program or go to the county's Juvenile Justice Center.

They chose Martin's program.

Jonathan said he was "kind of shocked" to learn that the paddlings would come from Martin and not his father — and he didn't know they were being videotaped. Still, he complained little.

"I didn't think it was right," he said. "He was a cop. I didn't think they were supposed to do that."

About the trial

Judge Andrew Logan is presiding over the jury trial. Martin pleaded innocent in May 2004 to 20 misdemeanor counts of dereliction of duty, 11 counts of assault, 12 counts of sham legal process and seven counts of unauthorized photography. He also faces two counts of theft in office, fifth-degree felonies.

Under questioning by defense attorney Dominic Vitantonio, Jonathan and Chad agreed Martin was fair and reasonable, patient and tolerant, not mean or angry. It was clear, Jonathan said, that Martin was trying to help him.

His dad, Lynn Romine, said he was "OK" with the program his son was part of for a year, but felt bad when he learned of the videotaping.

"I wasn't aware of that. I had no idea why he would do that," Romine testified.

The father said that, except for the videotaping, Martin always had his son's best interest in mind.

One time the boy complained, however, after being hit "a little bit high up in the back," Romine recalled. He saw no bruises but noted his son moved slower for a while.

Lisa Greathouse, Chad's mother, recalled signing the rules, said she didn't know about the videotaping and wasn't told by Martin about the swats.

"I called Chief Martin and said no, I didn't agree upon the swats," she testified. "I don't believe in swats. I'd rather ground my son, take a phone away — that kind of punishment."

Martin stopped the paddling after that, about July 2003, she said.

'I cringed'

"I'll never forget this," she tearily recalled about picking up her son and Jonathan after a session with Martin and being told Chad was paddled. "I cringed. I mean, I cringed — I had goose bumps on my back ... It hurt me, like I was the one that got the swats."

Chad recalled he would get extra swats if he told a lie; one time he chose a swat over more grounding or community service. Over the course of the year he was paddled 15 times.

Chad also said he couldn't sit down for a while after being paddled. He said he learned not to move while being paddled.

Upon his release from the program after a year, Martin wrote of Chad on a document introduced as evidence: "Ready to get off probation. Says he will make good decisions. Says he learned from probation. Says he learned to obey laws and parents."

©  2005 All Rights Reserved.

Corpun file 15018

Tribune Chronicle, Warren, Ohio, 28 January 2005

Teens describe paddling to court

By Christopher Bobby
Tribune Chronicle

WARREN - A steady stream of paddled teens and their parents continued to take the witness stand Thursday in the trial of former police chief charged with 11 counts of assault in a diversion program he ran.

Former Fowler police Chief James Martin is accused of paddling the teens as part of an unsanctioned program he ran out of the Fowler police station. The assault charges are part of a 52-count indictment the former lawman faces in the trial that is expected to continue into next week.

Trumbull County assistant prosecutors David Toepfer and Michael Burnett are expected continue their case today by calling to the witness stand police officers who investigated the program designed primarily for teenage boys who were first-time driving offenders. They also may call the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation agent who has the video tapes Martin made of the paddlings.

Teens told jurors Thursday that Martin made them bend over and grab their ankles behind his desk and look toward the wall before receiving swats from a wooden paddle.

"He told me to look at the wall so I wouldn't flinch. He didn't want to hurt me I guess," said Jarred Scott, a 17-year-old Howland teen who was charged in October 2003 with speeding, reckless operation and fleeing and eluding police after he and friends were riding their all-terrain vehicles in the vicinity of Howland Springs School.

An officer testified that Martin told him that since some of the offenses occurred on private property, the charges could be dismissed in court.

The officer said he referred the teens to Martin, who set up a series of punishments, including the paddling.

Scott's mother, Tina, said she agreed to the types of punishments, including spanking. But, after her son completed the program to avoid what she thought were stiff court fines and higher insurance premiums, she said she became aware of things that disturbed her.

"It was the way he received the swats," she said.

Martin is free on $2,500 bond since he was indicted in May on 20 counts of dereliction of duty, 11 counts of assault, 12 counts of using a sham legal process and seven counts of unauthorized photography, all misdemeanor charges, and the two counts of theft in office, both fifth-degree felonies.

He retired from the Howland department in May and resigned his position in Fowler a short time later.

Martin's attorney, Dominic Vitantonio, would not confirm whether Martin will take the stand when the defense presents its case.

Corpun file 15588

logo (WYTV-33 TV), Youngstown, Ohio, 28 January 2005

Video Evidence Is Shown at Martin Trial

By Patti DuShaw

Jurors in the criminal trial of the former Fowler Police Chief got to see first hand the allegations against him.

Prosecutors ended their case on Friday by showing videos of Jim Martin paddling teenaged boys.

The videos were found inside Martin's Fowler home in March after investigators learned of his secret diversion program.

He has since retired from his part-time Fowler job and Howland where he was a full-time captain.

A special agent with the Ohio BCI&I testified there were disks with 26 different video files on them. Agents also found diversion program documents from both Howland and Fowler. Some of them dated back to the 1970s.

Investigators testified that reports and evidence allegedly missing from the Howland Police Department were also discovered in Martin's basement.

Martin's attorney told jurors in opening statements that his client videotaped the paddlings to protect himself against abuse allegations.

The trial enters its second week on Monday with the defense presenting its case.

Copyright © 2005 Chelsey Broadcasting

Corpun file 15585

logo (WYTV-33 TV), Youngstown, Ohio, 31January 2005

Martin Trial Continues

By Patti DuShaw

The former Fowler police chief, who paddled teens as part of his juvenile diversion program, took the stand to testify in the criminal trial against him.

Jim Martin told jurors he was trying to help, not hurt the teens he paddled.

He felt they were good kids who had made bad decisions and shouldn't have to go to court.

Martin says the kids helped choose their punishment and did not think receiving "swats" was harsh.

Other consequences included community service, curfews, suspended driving privileges and essays.

Jurors heard testimony of how the Fowler program was a success.

Martin told of one Howland High School student who with his help and a rehab clinic, stopped taking drugs and alcohol, developed a better attitude towards school and became less of a truant.

The teen, also once depressed, became hopeful, says Martin.

He told jurors no one ever complained about the paddling.

Martin's attorney believes money is a motivating factor, pointing out that several of the kids who testified against him have also filed civil lawsuits.

The now-retired police officer was hand delivered the latest lawsuit during the morning break in the trial Monday.

Copyright © 2005 Chelsey Broadcasting

blob Follow-up: 1 February 2005 - Former chief says no one protested paddling

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