November 27, 2014

Elyria
Cloudy
30°F
test

Cruiser video of Grafton mayor’s arrest won’t be released

Grafton Mayor Megan Flanigan

Megan Flanigan

GRAFTON — Video from Saturday’s arrest of Mayor Megan Flanigan on drunken driving charges is not being made public.

Lt. Donald Barker of the Lorain County Sheriff’s Office said Monday he was preparing to release the police cruiser camera video to The Chronicle-Telegram but was told not to by Toni Morgan, North Ridgeville’s assistant law director and prosecutor. Morgan has been named a special prosecutor after Grafton Prosecutor Matt Mishak removed himself from the case. Prosecutors frequently remove themselves from cases involving public officials they interact with to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest.

Morgan cited Steckman v. Jackson, a 1994 Ohio Supreme Court case, for not releasing the video. In the decision, the justices ruled defendants could not use public records laws to obtain information on their cases after the discovery process because it was delaying prosecutions.

However, cruiser videos of drunken-driving suspects — including former Ohio Supreme Court Justice Alice Robie Resnick in 2005 — are frequently released by police.

“They are, but they don’t have to be,” Morgan said.

Around 3:10 a.m. Saturday, Flanigan is accused of hitting a fire hydrant with her Chevrolet sport utility vehicle at the intersection of Fox Run and Hunting Hollow near Flanigan’s home in the 1100 block of Fox Run. Flanigan, charged with drunken driving, failure to control and leaving the scene of an accident, denied drinking.

However, police said she smelled of alcohol and a deputy repeatedly had to catch her to keep her from falling during a failed field sobriety test. Police said she said she had a sprained ankle.

Flanigan didn’t return calls Sunday and Monday.

Morgan said she never permits arrest videos to be released before cases are completed and wasn’t showing Flanigan favoritism. However, Tim Smith, a Freedom of Information and Ohio Sunshine Law expert, disagreed.

“What this looks like is more of an attempt to prevent any additional embarrassment for the mayor without any foundation in the statute,” said Smith, a Kent State University professor emeritus and former Akron Beacon Journal managing editor. “That’s a major problem with this. Everybody’s not treated equally.”

Smith said the Steckman decision was meant to prevent delaying tactics by criminal suspects, not prevent the public from seeing videos of suspected drunken drivers.

“This is a routine piece of information that is uniformly released by police agencies,” he said. “There’s no top secret investigative technique being used here. Everybody knows cruisers have video machines for just this purpose.”

Reporter Brad Dicken contributed to this story.

Contact Evan Goodenow at 329-7129 or egoodenow@chroniclet.com.


  • Arietta Sullivan

    why? if it was just an ordinary citizen..the police&newspapers would enjoy humiliating them. go figure.

  • Mark B

    I think the CT should keep pressing this issue , or never post another video of anyone else . Talk about a double standard. I do realise it is not the Ct’s descision , but this is totally unfair to the average joe .

  • Mark

    kinda a coincidence, eh?

  • tickmeoff

    Human beings are a prejudiced lot. Not only is she the mayor, but a beautiful women also. Such is life. If not beauty, it is money that will give you a better shot at getting out of trouble. The expectation is and has been that life isn’t fair. God doesn’t hand out money and beauty to all, and unfortunately as human beings we will give breaks to those who are most like us. Politicians and law enforcement will get the breaks. Money will buy you a better shot with an attorney. Cases like this make ugliness and poverty like a disease. Such is life, and I am not expecting anything to change. There are two sets of laws, one for us and one for them.

    • luvmytoaster

      …..There are just as many “beautiful” poverty-stricken people. I think that this is more about her stature than her looks…..
      Shouldn’t the CT investigate this further? Do they have their hands in every elected officials pockets? The Chronicle claims to be impartial but I haven’t seen it yet……

      • Stan K

        We are talking about a bunch of mickey mouse reporters here.This is not the AP or WSJ.The only investigative journalism that goes on at the chronicle probably involves missing bear claws and who left the coffee pot on.

      • bunianne

        Fat and sloppy maybe but not beautiful….

    • bunianne

      Wait let’s back up….beautiful?????? How about fat and sloppy, that’s the video I saw of her at her office in town hall showed….5’9″ probably, 150lbs I think closer to 200 is more accurate….Not that it matters….if the video is not released there will be a law suite the next time someone gets busted and they air it…..

  • Ray Venn

    In Steckman v. Jackson, the only point that REMOTELY applies here is this:

    “In case No. 92-1758, we find a person charged with a crime, seeking by way of a pretrial motion in his criminal proceeding as opposed to bringing a mandamus action, records he alleges to be public.”

    The CT FOIA request of the dashcam video was neither related officially or unofficially to her case nor was it brought by the CT in a pretrial motion.

    The law director in this case is clearly mistaken…

    The dashcam video is public record, not particularly distasteful nor egregious, obscene or containing video that discloses sensitive police activities or operations.

    I say sue the City of North Ridgeville and in particular, Law Director Morgan.

  • bigmacky

    well looks like we will have to wait for “world’s Dumbest” drunk drivers #37 to air

    • PinkStarlet

      THAT IS TOO FUNNY !!!! LOVE THAT SHOW. :)

  • oldruss

    There’s an old adage that an attorney should conduct himself or herself at all times so as not to give the appearance of impropriety. Looks like Toni Morgan is stretching the limits of that old adage.