Prosecutor James Flaiz is a lawbreaker. He violated one of the most basic rights of a citizen by refusing a public records request. He, and his two attorneys, will now be in court on February 3, 2020 for a trial.
During 2018 on five different occasions, with five different requests for public records, Flaiz either ignored, tried to divert elsewhere or responded with partial information to official O.R.C. 149.43 requests from Chardon resident and state-licensed private investigator Susan Daniels.
Daniels, who has been licensed for twenty-six years, knows the Ohio Public Records Act, as well as its exclusions. As an example of what she has had to contend with, she once asked Flaiz for records of an annual report that Flaiz is required to submit to the Commissioners and the State every September. He refused to honor a request for the 2014-1015 report without a battle and a stall.
In December 2018 Daniels requested all the records of a part-time investigator Flaiz hired named Craig Young, a Chesterland police officer. It had the smell of a crony hire. That skirmish became a war. Flaiz refused to release Young’s time sheets and insisted that there were none. Daniels had copies of Young’s payroll record from the Auditor’s office that showed each pay period and how much he was paid. It was less than $5,000 for the entire year of 2018. Did Young just go to Flaiz and tell him how much to write him a check for each pay period?
Daniels, who has run into bully politicians before, hired an attorney and filed a Writ of Mandamus. That is a simple filing which results in both parties being called before a judge and the judge ordering the public official to release records.
Instead, Flaiz hired two attorneys, at county expense, to file for a “jury trial,” an obvious attempt to intimidate Daniels. That has never been done before by any lawyer because it is so preposterous — and it did not work. By the way, the lawyers are from the law firm of Manzanec, Raskin & Ryder — the same Ed Ryder who works at the Geauga Board of Elections.
Daniels filed the Writ in February 2019. Two months later the court set a pre-trial date of December 9th. Was the court really that busy? Flaiz’s lawyers kept filing motions to have the Writ dismissed. Think about that for a minute. They wanted to dismiss a request for public records and called it a frivolous filing.
Daniels’ lawyer, Kimberly Corral, was up to the task, although she is a criminal defense attorney not a civil one.
Flaiz should be embarrassed for acting like the town bully. His tactics didn’t work. Daniels fought back, something Flaiz was not smart enough to anticipate. His lawyers should be embarrassed, too. But money is money and that is the lifeblood of lawyers and most lawyers are vampires.