Under the rug
In a few hours this edition of The People News will be rolling off the press, so there is little time to follow all the late breaking stories apart from on this page, the last to be written. Word has it that former reporter for the Bradley News Weekly, J Michael Leonard, who now writes for the website HomeTownCleveland.com, has filed a request for a Declaratory Judgement in Chancery Court on whether District Attorney Jerry Estes can legally prevent him from reporting on a case that has been expunged from the record. Apparently Estes had threatened Leonard with arrest if he even inquires about the case.
The case in question involves Jason Creel, son of Bradley County Commissioner Ralph Creel who also works for the Bradley County Sheriff's Office. Stay with me because this story gets weirder and weirder and plays out something like this:
It all started when 6th District Constable Dewayne Hicks, allegedly obtained a copy of a police report concerning Jason Creel who is also a candidate for 6th District Constable. The 1996 report on Creel's activities was later expunged from the record by Judge Steven Bebb with little explanation. It gets weirder. Bebb is a candidate for District Attorney. Commissioner Ralph Creel threatened Hicks' life in the presence of fellow 6th District Commissioner Roy E. Smith. Creel is mad at Hicks for revealing his son's secret past. Smith files a police complaint so Creel is forced to make a public apology for his outburst and to keep from losing his job. Creel's official explanation that the threat was made in jest was obviously untrue. Ralph Creel and son Jason then file a lawsuit against the Cleveland Police Department for damages incurred due to the release of the police report that they say should have been destroyed. Crazy huh? In the meantime Sheriff Dan Gilley denies accusations that he taunted Hicks by saying "Creel is gonna getcha - Creel is gonna getcha." Gilley and Hicks have been longtime adversaries, Hicks filed a petition to run for Sheriff against Gilley in 2002.
Back to J. Michael Leonard and his Declaratory Judgment. Leonard says he needs to find the reason why Creel's case was expunged even though he was indicted by a grand jury. To further his case he mentions other cases involving police employees or their relatives similarly avoiding prosecution. Alex Gilley, son of Sheriff Dan Gilley was indicted by a grand jury for dealing drugs and possessing a firearm but was not prosecuted.
Estes may or may not be legally correct when he threatened Leonard but what this really is is a cover-up. Estes is using his position as District Attorney to intimidate an inquiring citizen for the purpose of protecting an influential alleged wrongdoer. Estes is the one who should be threatened with arrest for misusing his power of office. Ralph Creel should be threatened with arrest for intending bodily harm to a public official. And Jason Creel should have been treated by Judge Bebb the way he treated everyone else.
What was Jason Creel accused of to cause such controversy? Because of Estes threat I can't say for now but if Leonard's request fails in the local court, this editor will support him both monetarily and professionally as far as he wishes to take it, to the Supreme court if necessary. And, because this whole affair is wrong and a direct threat to the right of the people to know what their government is doing, I do promise to do all I can to help Leonard ensure the dirt will not remain under the rug indefinitely.
That's what I think. What do you think?
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