More subpoenas filed in commissioner’s lawsuit
By Jane Beathard
Visiting Judge James A. Brogan has denied a request by London resident Susan Beth Dunham for a quick legal decision on an allegation that she intimidated Madison County Commissioner Paul Gross via negative Facebook postings during last spring’s primary campaign.
The allegation is just one of many fired at Dunham and 12 “John Does” in a libel and defamation lawsuit filed by Gross, following the March 6 election. Brogan’s decision inches the civil case closer to a March 4, 2013 trial.
Dunham’s attorney, John Xavier Perez, asked Brogan to dismiss the Gross accusation that Facebook postings by Dunham and others aimed to intimidate him as a county commissioner. Intimidation of a public official is a criminal charge in Ohio.
Perez argued his client was not liable for the postings since she was never prosecuted criminally under the intimidation statute.
Gross’ attorney, Rick Brunner, countered Perez, saying Ohio case law does not require criminal prosecution as a condition of civil liability.
In a decision filed Oct. 5, Brogan agreed with Brunner’s argument.
Computers, hard drives and cell phones belonging to the Dunham family business, Deer Creek Honey Farms, Inc., are the latest to fall under a subpoena issued by Brunner. The attorney is looking for e-mails and text messages that occurred since June 2010 between Dunham and others regarding Gross, his wife Kirsten Gross, and the mysterious Internet figure, Jarrod Smith. Brunner also asked for Dunham’s list of cell phone contacts.
Brunner set Oct. 12 as the deadline for Deer Creek Honey Farms to turn over the requested electronics.
Previously, Brunner subpoenaed Dunham, Madison County Engineer Dave Brand, county auditor Jennifer Hunter and London Law Director Zahid Siddiqi.
Depositions provided by Dunham and Brand were filed in recent weeks and are now public record. Depositions by Siddiqi and Hunter are not in the public file.