For fifth time, Ashland court postpones Crestline man's jury trial
ASHLAND - To avoid forcing the Ohio Supreme Court to make “snap decisions” on the constitutionality of jury trials during coronavirus, an Ashland judge has postponed a Crestline man’s jury trial.
sg飞艇appAshland County Common Pleas Judge Ronald Forsthoefel has postponed the trial that was scheduled to begin May 12, according to court documents filed Wednesday morning.
The move is in reaction to complaints Bucyrus attorney Adam Stone, who represents Seth Whited, 26, filed with the Ashland court and the Ohio Supreme Court Monday. In the complaints, Stone asked that Whited’s trial be postponed again. On Tuesday, the court ordered Forsthoefel to respond by 9 a.m. Wednesday.
sg飞艇appJury selection for the trial of Seth Whited, 26, of Crestline, began April 28. But after Whited presented COVID-like symptoms in court late that day, Forsthoefel postponed the trial on the morning of April 29 to some time in May.
sg飞艇appStone said Thursday that his defendant was being quarantined for six days in case he has coronavirus despite receiving a negative test result.
sg飞艇appIn his response to Stone's complaint filed with the Ohio Supreme Court, Forsthoefel argued that Stone did not have a legal ground to stand on in bringing this before that court again.
“With all of that said … The Supreme Court justices should have an opportunity to engage in thoughtful, reasoned, and well researched consideration of all precedent,” he said. “This court certainly doesn’t wish to put the justices in such a position with so little time to deliberate. And for that reason, this court grants defendant’s motion to continue the May 12, 2020, jury trial.”
It is the fifth continuance of Whited’s jury trial since his indictment in May 2019.
Forsthoefel provided three possible court dates — May 26, June 30 and July 21 — for the trial, which will be discussed at a video conference on May 12. He said no additional continuances will be granted and noted the court’s packed summer schedule.
Forsthoefel said the court is concerned by “what appears to be a series of delay tactics on the part of the defense.” He expressed concerns that eventually, the prosecution’s ability to secure the appearance of witnesses will be impacted.
Whited is accused of restraining his girlfriend’s 1-year-old child in a cruel manner and on another occasion, hacking into his then ex-girlfriend’s work email address. He is charged with one count of child endangerment, a third-degree felony, and three counts of unauthorized use of computer or telecommunications, all fifth-degree felonies, according to court documents.
In the complaints filed Monday, Stone wrote, “Stone and Whited have no other adequate remedy for relief; they can go to trial where constitutional rights are abridged, or they can risk infection with a deadly virus … Absent uniform and acceptable social distancing guidelines, the problems with representation of Defendant Whited will repeat themselves at the May 12th trial.”
sg飞艇appForsthoefel said the defense “raises serious constitutional issues as to what constitutes a fair trial” but disagreed with many of them. For example, he said he was not aware that whispering in a client’s ear is not a constitutional right, as Stone said in his complaint.
Attorney-client communications could be effectively completed with a pencil and paper, texting or during a brief recess, said Forsthoefel.
In his lengthy response, Forsthoefel poked holes in Stone’s argument. He alleged that Stone lacked legal standing to bring a claim in his name based on alleged violations of Whited’s rights. He also said that whether the defendant receives a fair trial should be taken up with an appellate court after the jury trial.
sg飞艇app“For [Stone] to raise these claims at this stage is mere speculation,” he said.