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National Museum & Archives
102 Old Lincoln Way West
Galion, Ohio 44833

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Number 263
Here's to You John!!
September 28, 2003

Dear Friends,

But perhaps the best example,
is what I call,
"The John Bender Syndrome".

It all started innocently enough,
but in many ways is the reason
we're here today.

Back in 1985,
I picked up the paper
and read about this guy
charged with contempt of court.

You couldn't believe the things
he said to the Judge.

I'd never seen anything like it,
and knowing what I know
about newspapers,
decided to read the transcript
and get the whole story.

While perhaps unusual for most,
I spend a lot of time
at the courthouse
researching probate files,
real estate records,
and the like
during my years
in the coin business.

So it was no big deal...

Turns out,
the only record of the case,
was a video tape made during the trial,
and the judge said,
I couldn't see it unless I was,
An Attorney,
A Party to the action
or
A Member of the Press.

So I went home
with my tail between my legs.

I called the family,
and they gave me a copy
of the written transcript
they had made for appeal.

It blew my mind...

You couldn't believe what the guy said,
but worse than that,
there were several
"18 minute gaps"
at crucial times.

How could the court be asked to
rule on the issue without
a complete record??

Clearly there was more to the story
than had been reported.

So back to the court,
to view the tape,
this time
as a member of the press.

Two can play this game...

The judge said,
"Sorry...that's not good enough,
you have to get a signed letter
from your editor."

So I called UPI in Columbus
and asked for permission
to look into the matter
and file a story.

The bureau Chief agreed,
and said he would send a letter
to the judge stating my credentials.

In the mean time,
I went to the library
and looked up the law on
Public Records.

Clearly the judge was wrong,
everyone regardless of class
had access to the records.

Weeks passed,
and I stopped by
to check on the letter.

It hadn't arrived,
but the Judge invited me
into chambers and said,
"It didn't matter,
letter or no letter
I couldn't see the tape."

Can you believe it??

So I showed him the law,
and that started
a rather amusing round of
"Ring around the Rosie."

Bottom line,
"You can't see it..."

Well that only left
one alternative.

"I'll see you in Court."

"Fine...write a formal letter
requesting the tape,
I'll deny it,
and you can proceed from there."

Several months later...

I filed 18 copies with
The Ohio Supreme Court.

Six months later...

by unanimous decision,
the judge is ordered to produce the tape.

But it doesn't stop there...

After comparing the video tape
with the written record,
there are over 800 errors.

Clearly,
Justice could not be served if
The Appeals Court,
didn't have an accurate
record of the proceedings.

So I called a Press Conference
handed out copies of the record
with corrections then played the tape
so people could judge for themselves.

Needless to say the Judge was ticked,
but said he had reviewed the record
and certified the corrections.

So now he personally,
stood behind the corrected record.

But that was only cosmetic,
there were still over 700 errors,
some of real significance.

So I sent
The Appeals Court
a full copy citing
The Ohio Supreme Court Ruling
and before ruling on the case
they might want to check the record.

A week later,
the material came back,
not an attorney,
or party to the action.

Again...hard to believe!!

What happened to the Truth???

Later,
I wrote the Judge a
"Dear John Letter"
thanking him for my legal education.

It took over two years
for things to finally unfold,
and while frustrating at the time,
it was by far
one of the best things
that ever happened.

So when someone's a jerk,
it might ultimately
be for our own good.

In point of fact,
we owe all this to
"The John Bender Syndrome"

So, here's to you John!!

Warmest Regards,

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