Witmer-Rich Op-Ed Criticizes Ohio’s Failed Bail Reform Efforts

Professor Jonathan Witmer-Rich published an op-ed today on cleveland.com, titled “Kenta Settles’ lengthy jail stay shows how Ohio bail reform has failed.”  He discusses the recent case of Kenta Settles, who was attacked by Garfield Heights police officers and then held for five months in pretrial detention before being released when the police body camera footage was finally disclosed.

Witmer-Rich recounts how after Settles was arrested, the magistrate set a $250,000 bond, an amount clearly chosen to ensure Settles would be detained.  Witmer-Rich criticizes the practice of detaining defendants by using money bonds without the due process that would be required for an actual detention order.

Ohio law does allow judges to order defendants detained pretrial, but only after following a detailed set of procedures to protect individuals from unnecessary detention.  Witmer-Rich explains that Ohio judges routinely bypass those procedures and instead set high money bail.  This is exactly what happened to Settles.  Had the judge followed the procedures required for an actual detention order, there is a good chance that the body camera footage would have been disclosed immediately, rather than after five months of unncessary detention.

Witmer-Rich also criticizes a recent decision by the Ohio Rules Commission (of which he is a member) to permit Ohio judges to continue this practice of detaining defendants with money bail.  He concludes, “Ohio judges must stop using money bail to detain defendants without following the procedures required to justify pretrial detention. The Ohio Legislature and the Ohio Supreme Court must end this practice.”

Professor Kalir Discusses Momentous LGBTQ Supreme Court Opinion With Local News

On June 15, the Supreme Court issued its decision in Bostock v. Clayton County, holding that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 protects gay, lesbian, and transgender employees from discrimination.  Professor Doron Kalir discussed the opinion with the Cleveland Jewish News and the Chronicle Telegram (Elyria).  Professor Kalir praised the opinion, noting that it would be very influential because over one hundred other federal statutes also include the phrase interpreted in Bostock–“because of sex.”  Professor Kalir also affirmed the social significance of the decision, reinforcing that LGBTQ rights are human rights.  He stated that the decision is one more step towards a more perfect Union.
Professor Kalir also cautioned about future difficulties in enforcing the rights of LGBTQ employees.  He explained that all three employers in the cases before the Supreme Court were brazen enough to admit that they have fired the employees only for being gay or transgender, in the future, employers may be less open or honest about their motives for terminating LGBTQ employees.
Together with Professors Matthew Green, Ken Kowalski, and Carolyn Broering-Jacobs, professor Kalir submitted last year an Amicus Brief to the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals in the Amy Stephens case — one of the three cases decided by the Court in Bostock. The Brief was submitted on behalf of Equality Ohio, headed by Cleveland-Marshall alumna Alana Jochum, and helped the Court of Appeals in ruling in favor of the logical interpretation of Title VII.
Though Ms. Stephens did not live to see the day, the Supreme Court affirmed the Sixth Circuit’s opinion, recognizing for the first time the right of transgender persons to be protected from discrimination in their workplace.

Sagers on NPR’s Marketplace, Other Venues, to Discuss Antitrust Issues

Chris Sagers, the James A. Thomas Professor of Law, spoke with NPR’s Marketplace Morning Report for a story about the just-announced merger of the meal delivery service GrubHub with a European firm called JustEats Takeaway. The deal was announced only shortly after merger talks fell apart between GrubHub and UberEats, a deal that apparently foundered on antitrust concerns. Not only would that earlier deal have combined two of the three major players that dominate food delivery in the United States, but the two remaining dominant players, UberEats and DoorDash, would have had the same major investor, the Japanese investment firm SoftBank.

Sagers also spoke with Law360 about a recent challenge to patent abuses by the pharmaceutical giant AbbVie and with Congressional Quarterly/Roll Call about a recent letter by Senator Josh Hawley, urging the Federal Trade Commission to investigate a wildly popular new video-sharing app from China, called Zynn.

Sagers Speaks With ProPublica About Amazon Marketing Practices

Chris Sagers, the James A. Thomas Professor of Law, spoke with the news organization ProPublica for a story uncovering conduct by the online retailer Amazon, potentially in violation of the antitrust laws. During some years of agitation for antitrust scrutiny of the Big Tech platforms, and several indications of federal action against one or more of them, observes have uncovered a series of specific, suspect strategies by Amazon. Past examples have included its competition for sales in its own “marketplace” products, its contracting practices with its suppliers, and other matters. ProPublica’s own prior reporting has uncovered other suspect conduct by Amazon, and this new story discovered evidence of particular, hidden steps Amazon takes to preference its own private-table brands. Sagers gave his thoughts about whether these new tactics could be anticompetitive or illegal.

ProPublica is an independent, non-profit newsroom that has become a leading source for investigative journalism, having won several Pulitzer Prizes and other awards and recognitions.

Professor Witmer-Rich Featured on Fox 8 Regarding Ongoing Protests

Professor Jonathan Witmer-Rich spoke on Fox 8 News yesterday about the recent protests in the wake of the police killing of George Floyd.  Asked about the violence that occurred during some early protests, he stated, “It’s been very encouraging that we’ve seen the violence decrease dramatically.”  In terms of response by law enforcement, Professor Witmer-Rich stated, police “need to think seriously about what’s the course of what’s going on here. . . .  As we see them becoming less violent, I think it makes a lot of sense for the police to say, this is headed in the right direction, let’s make sure we don’t play any role to aggravate the situation.”

The story can be viewed here.

Professor Witmer-Rich is Associate Dean for Academic Enrichment and the Joseph C. Hostetler–Baker Hostetler Professor of Law.