PRESS RELEASE, 6/9/2010

Ohio Supreme Court unanimously sides with Hamilton County Prosecutor Joseph T. Deters and the Hamilton County Court of Common Pleas


"This is a terrific win for the taxpayers in Hamilton County."

Today, the Ohio Supreme Court issued its decision in State ex rel. Hamilton County Board of Commissioners v. Hamilton County Court of Common Pleas. The unanimous court denied the Hamilton County Commissioners ("Board") demand for a Writ of Prohibition in their attempt to invalidate the Hamilton County Court of Common Pleas order terminating the employment of special counsel. Commissioners David Pepper and Todd Portune represented the Board in this failed action.

The law firm of Vorys, Sater, Seymour and Pease has been employed by the Board since 2002 for matters relating to the stadium and other riverfront projects. The Board has spent approximately $20 million dollars in the last ten years on outside counsel.

In December, 2008 Hamilton County Prosecutor Joseph T. Deters sent a letter to the Board noting his objection to the continued employment of outside counsel and the expenditure of millions in legal fees. The Hamilton County Prosecutor's Office attempted to work with the Hamilton County Commissioners to resolve this issue. The Board refused to come to an amicable resolution. On October 15, 2009 Hamilton County Prosecutor Joseph Deters and Chief Assistant Prosecutor James Harper attended the joint session for the Hamilton County Court of Common Pleas. At that meeting, 12 of the 13 judges signed an order terminating the employment of the Vorys firm effective January 1, 2010. Instead of appealing the October 15th order, the Board filed an original action for a Writ of Prohibition with the Ohio Supreme Court arguing that the judges lacked jurisdiction to issue the order.

In today's ruling, the Ohio Supreme Court held that the judges did not lack jurisdiction to issue the order, that the judges had the power to terminate their authorization to hire outside counsel as requested by the Prosecutor, and that the Board was not entitled to a Writ of Prohibition when they should have appealed the matter to the First District Court of Appeals. Today's ruling makes clear that the Board is now out of time to pursue any further legal action. The judges' original order terminating special counsel now stands.

Prosecutor Deters commented, "This is a terrific win for taxpayers in Hamilton County.

I tried to negotiate the management of outside counsel for over 11/2 years and that was rejected consistently by a majority of the Board.

Two of them then chose to sue the judges to avoid following their lawful order. Hundreds of thousands of dollars have been wasted on their meritless lawsuit.

It is my intention to fully enforce the order of the Hamilton County Court of Common Pleas."