September 2, 2014

Elyria
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Will fires back against ‘personal attacks’ by Burge

ELYRIA — Lorain County Prosecutor Dennis Will accused county Common Pleas Judge James Burge on Friday of seeing him as an enemy to be fought.

“Judge Burge clearly views (my office) as his adversary that he must combat, contrary to his position as a judge,” Will wrote in an affidavit sent to the Ohio Supreme Court as part of his ongoing effort to have Burge barred from hearing cases in which his office is involved.

Burge, who has denied being biased against Will, declined to comment Friday.

Will also denied that he had been keeping records on Burge as part of an effort to remove him from the bench, an allegation the judge has leveled at Will in comments to The Chronicle-Telegram and his formal response to Will’s court filings against him.

“This assertion is blatantly false,” Will wrote. “While numerous Assistant Prosecutors have memorialized interactions they have had with Judge Burge, these were reduced to writing for purposes of documenting what occurred during interactions with Judge Burge, which might at a later date be called into question.”

In his original affidavit of disqualification against Burge filed last month, Will accused the judge of physically intimidating and sexually harassing assistant prosecutors, making racist comments and seeking to find a government job for his wife.

When Burge responded earlier this week, he suggested that Will’s staff was making the allegations against him only because they are beholden to Will for their jobs. He also suggested that if everything he’s been accused of is true, then Will failed in his obligations to take action against him sooner.

But Will wrote Wednesday that he hadn’t pressured his staff to make the allegations against Burge. Assistant County Prosecutor Tony Cillo denied in his own affidavit that he engaged in “aggressive debriefing” of prosecutors working in Burge’s courtroom to gather information on the judge.

Will also complained in his latest filing that rather than respond to many of the allegations against him, some dating as far back as 2007, that Burge’s formal response was used to launch “personal attacks” against his staff “regardless of the accuracy or truthfulness of such statements.”

Burge wrote extensively earlier this week on his private conversations with various assistant county prosecutors, detailing their professional and personal woes.

For instance, Burge wrote about the marital and family health problems that his former bailiff, Assistant County Prosecutor Joe Tackett, discussed with him. Burge also suggested that Tackett, a former police officer, had once been addicted to prescription painkillers.

Burge wrote in his formal response that Tackett had left his employ last year because of disputes over how he should use his sick leave to help his ill wife. The judge also detailed numerous problems he had with Tackett’s behavior and dress while working for him.

But in a letter Burge wrote to Tackett’s parents in November and included in Will’s latest court filing, the judge blamed himself for Tackett quitting, saying he had been too hard on his former bailiff. Burge also acknowledged in the letter that working for him could be difficult, particularly while Tackett was dealing with family issues.

The filing does not explain why Burge penned a letter to Tackett’s parents.

“While all of this was occurring, Joe, believing that I am a better man than I am, went to work for a judge whose various legal and social beliefs, expressed both out loud and in writing, placed him in jeopardy of professional discipline — or even worse,” Burge wrote. “Because I have always been absorbed in my own agenda, which I have pursued with my own brand of recklessness, I was entirely insensitive to the pressure Joe was under.”

Burge has acknowledged being the subject of inquiries by the Supreme Court’s Office of Disciplinary Counsel and is also the target of a state criminal investigation, which appears to include an examination of his finances.

Other members of Will’s staff also weighed in Friday with their own affidavits, including paralegal Amanda Thomas, who considered applying for a job as Burge’s bailiff. Thomas wrote that while Burge had been complimentary of her abilities, she suspected he had an ulterior motive.

“These complimentary statements were framed with statements which I felt were his attempt to engage me in a derogatory and negative discussion about my employer,” Thomas wrote. “I felt intimidated and manipulated by this type of conversation.”

Thomas also wrote that she later concluded that considering taking a job with Burge was “misguided and unrealistic” based on his behavior.

Will wrote that after reading Burge’s response to the allegations against him, he feels even more justified in seeking to have the judge barred from involvement with his office.

Until the dispute between Burge and Will is settled, Visiting Judge Dale Crawford is handling Burge’s criminal docket.

Contact Brad Dicken at 329-7147

or bdicken@chroniclet.com.

  • levtrotsky

    Childish behavior on the part of two elected officials……….. not worthy of ‘ news ‘

  • dale lieb

    I think you two little girls take your issues outside and end all this.

  • Pat Meyer

    He said….He said. Really? Grow up and do your jobs. Quit wasting taxpayers money spending your time bashing each other.

  • Razorback Twou

    “Will wrote in an affidavit sent to the Ohio Supreme Court as part of his ongoing effort” ” Will also complained in his latest filing” Yea, I think that would make you an ” adversary” ,Will. Grow up.

    • Americaschild

      Pathetic. That Will and his attorneys are behaving unprofessionally and need to remove themselves as prosectuors.

  • Otter

    Then Burge will respond to Will, then Will will respond to Burge, then Burge will respond to Will……….and so on, and so on. Move on, or move out.

  • Scout

    Well, it is apparent that there DEFINITELY is a history with these two. There’s no kissing and making up with this one.

    • Americaschild

      never piss off a cop and Will’s behavior and focus proves this!

  • tickmeoff

    And one of the best Lorain County Soap Opera’s continues. Like a good fight in High School, one looks for the latest bloody nose or Black eye, so one can keep score. Two powerful men facing off, who is the most arrogant, who is the best arguer? Lawyer? Stay tuned as one or both ruin their careers.

  • Larry Crnobrnja

    Play nice boys or you won’t get any ice cream.

  • brenda

    A judge and a prosecutor. You guy’s really need to get yourself together. You can bet who I wnt be voting for next election! The both of you are an embarrassment to the county of Lorain’s legal system!!

  • Barbara Ann Fairall

    STOP THIS NONSENSE…again my taxpayer money is being used for nothing but a fist fight using words….

  • Americaschild

    Will is acting unprofessional and taking whatever upsets him about Judge Burge personally. Shame on Will. He needs to remove himself as prosecutor.

    • Bill Love

      Burge should step down too both needed kicked out if office

  • tomfeher

    Tried of this lovers spat, kiss and make up already

  • GreatRedeemer

    Unfriend each other on Facebook, that seal the deal.

  • John Demirjian

    Time to put on the adult pants and get down to some serious business of running the courts.

  • Simon Jester

    If it came to blows, that scrawny Communist doesn’t stand a chance..

    And have we totally overlooked the part where Burge refuses to execute his office?

    There is no justice as long as that jumped up ambulance chaser wears a robe.

  • stop ur whining part deux

    Maybe Burge now views your office as an enemy because you have kept a file on him for nearly a decade and he has numerous accusations coming from your office. What does Will expect Burge, or for that matter anyone to do, when they are having a witch hunt lead against them?