ShareThis Page

3 Butler officials questioned over trial procedures

| Friday, Dec. 6, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

Two Butler County commissioners who received jury questionnaires on the same day, along with the county solicitor, said on Thursday that the state attorney general's office questioned them.

Commissioner A. Dale Pinkerton said he believes the questionnaires are tied to a state probe of jury commissioners Clint Bonetti and Jon Galante. Bonetti, Galante and officials at the attorney general's office did not return messages on Thursday.

County President Judge Thomas Doerr declared the men unable to perform their duties, banned them from their office, removed access to county computers and voicemail and took away their key cards.

Doerr, in a Nov. 22 court order, said he took action because the attorney general's office advised him criminal charges might be filed.

Pinkerton and fellow Commissioner Bill McCarrier voted on May 23, two days after the primary, to eliminate the jury commission positions, citing cost savings.

McCarrier said he, Pinkerton and solicitor Mike English received questionnaires the first week of October.

“We thought it was a little suspicious,” McCarrier said.

English declined to comment.

The men notified the court administrator's office. McCarrier said the attorney general's office “went through the sequence of events” with him.

McCarrier completed his questionnaire and returned it. He received a summons to report for jury duty on Friday. A court order canceled the summonses.

Deputy Court Administrator Tom Holman said on Thursday that jury trials set for Thursday and Friday were canceled because defendants pleaded to charges.

He expects the court to appoint two people next week to oversee selection of a jury pool for January.

The positions were not on the November ballot, though Bonetti, a Democrat, and Galante, a Republican, won nominations in the primary.

Galante and Bonetti, who is head of the State Association of Jury Commissioners, will be paid through the end of the year, Holman said. Doerr's order allows the men to appeal, but they have not.

Prospective jurors are picked randomly by computer. Jury commissioners decide whether people are eligible for jury pools.

Bill Vidonic is a staff writer for Trib Total Media.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.