The Tribune recently ran an editorial critical of Warren City Law Director Greg Hicks. I recognize that since ancient times it has been fashionable to question and criticize lawyers. The Tribune took that ancient tradition to the extreme and showed a disregard for facts and a failure to understand legal process on a number of issues.
Making the least sense was the implication that Hicks improperly dismissed charges against the owner of an Internet sweepstakes cafe charged with operating an illegal gambling business.
What the Tribune editorial failed to note was that at the time of the dismissal, the law in Ohio was not clear on the legality of Internet sweepstakes cafes. Ohio's 6th District declared the cafes to be legal. Ohio's 8th District declared them to be illegal. The 11th District, which includes Trumbull County, had not decided the issue.
Given that the question of these cafe's legality was unresolved, it would make no sense for the law department to go after these enterprises cowboy style without solid legal footing.
As the Tribune reported on May 29, 2013, it was not until May 28, 2013, that Gov. John Kasich signed legislation regulating the sweepstakes Internet cafes. The new legislation now provides necessary legal definition and parameters to allow for regulation and, if necessary, prosecution of these business operators. Why would the legislature and governor have enacted the new law if these cafes were already illegal?
The Tribune generally takes a position of limited government and strict constitutional construction. Yet in criticizing Hicks, they advocate extra-legal prosecution and broad-based use of government power.
The Tribune has every right and should criticize our public officials when appropriate. However, as the only print media in Trumbull County, the Tribune has a duty to follow the adage of Ross Perot of measure twice and cut once before attacking a person's reputation and integrity, even if the person is a lawyer.
-- Michael Ognibene, Warren