Editorial: In Support Of Efforts To Unseal Transcripts In Case Against Sheriff David

Sheriff George David // Beaver Countian File Photo

Sheriff George David // Beaver Countian File Photo

The Beaver Countian supports efforts by the Beaver County Times and the Pittsburgh Tribune Review to unseal transcripts of arguments presented in court as part of a Habeas Corpus hearing held at the beheast of Sheriff George David.

Monday’s hearing saw Mercer County Senior Judge Francis J. Fornelli dismiss one count of intimidation of a witness against David pertaining to Deputy Thomas Ochs.

While most of that hearing was held in open court Judge Fornelli moved the proceeding into chambers for argument, saying he was worried about tainting a potential Beaver County jury pool.

Times’ courts reporter Kristen Doerschner stood up and spoke out against actions being taken to close the proceedings on Monday. Judge Fornelli ignored Doerschner at the hearing, but her voice is now being heard loud and clear throughout the region.

The Beaver County Times and Tribune Review both filed motions in Common Pleas Court yesterday to have transcripts from a closed portion of the hearing released to the public. Both news organizations also published articles critical of Judge Fornelli’s attempts at shielding proceedings from public view.

David is currently facing six counts of intimidation of a witness along with charges of reckless endangerment, simple assault, and making terroristic threats. The charges stem from an incident in April 2012 where Sheriff David pulled out his service revolver and threatened to murder this reporter along with Beaver County Prothonotary Nancy Werme and Beaver County Times Reporter JD Prose.

Two deputies who were in the room and witnessed Sheriff David’s hours long tirade initially lied to protect him. They have since been testifying under promise of immunity from criminal prosecution.

David is also facing a charge of harassment from an unrelated incident in which he allegedly threatened to dismember and cannibalize one of his campaign staffers.

Much too much involving Sheriff George David and his cronies has been concealed from the public for much too long. Years of inaction by County Commissioners and the District Attorney’s Office have eroded public confidence in local government. What the people of Beaver County need now is not a court which seeks to further cloak truth from public view, but a judicial process which is transparent and works to rebuild trust in our system.

Judge Fornelli has previously sealed other transcripts in which Sheriff David’s attorneys attempted to get a gag order issued against this journalist to prevent further reporting on David’s abuses of power and persons. The court docket for Sheriff David’s case has been riddled with errors, and at least one scheduled hearing has failed to materialize in the public record at all.

During various criminal hearings for Sheriff David I have watched as his most loyal inner circle of deputies provided “security” for the proceedings, personnel from the Clerk of Courts Office sat behind him hugging his wife, and the judge’s own tip staff shook his hand and patted him on the back smiling. It is not an atmosphere which conveys a sense of impartiality. Public hearings in private chambers and sealed transcripts only add to the already uneasy feeling that things in this case are not as they should be.

I am a named victim in the criminal case pending against Sheriff George David, and can ethically only join these lawsuits filed by the Beaver County Times and Pittsburgh Tribune Review in spirit. I do so with pride and gratitude.

Note: In the interest of full disclosure, this reporter is a named victim in criminal charges filed against Sheriff George David by the Pennsylvania State Police.

 

14 comments

  1. SpeakTheTruthToo

    Keep fighting the good fight JP. You are making a difference.

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  2. i cant believe how long this has been going on and everything that keeps happening hang in there John Paul!!!!!!!

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  3. I never thought I would say this but I am really impressed with The Times. For them to be going through with this something is wrong and now The Trib is involved. This article here speaks volumes of all the cronyism in the courthouse. I hope justice prevails

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    • He’ll never get credit for it but anyone that’s been reading this site knows JP helped to change the Times as much as their new editor has.  I just wish they would hire him it would be incredible.

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      • If they did hire JP, he would not have the freedom to report what he does on this blog. He has nobody to answer to but himself. That is his biggest advantage.

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  4. Lol lmfao, Hey the president judge’s tip staff? Wouldn’t surprie me with this den of inequity…. A sheriff that couldn’t string a sentence together let alone spell JUDGE has manipulated the”PJ” along with his lawyer who should of been disbarred years ago…… Think ahhh remember the security debacle sheriff threw mcbride under bus then he got him to swear in people for political reason as special deputies and the PJ DID IT , OHHHH wait then trapped them on something with gun permits are you kidding me but wants then to drive by homes for what they can’t arrest someone or investigate on a whim,It’s comical what has become of the courts….. You have to staff that give opinion roam halls all day….. Mistrials

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  5. Wonder what it cost to buy off this judge?

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  6. if they had nothing to hide, this wouldnt even be an issue. keep up the good work.

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  7. I’m so tired hearing about this Big Asshole!! He needs to go!!!!!!

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  8. “Much too much involving Sheriff George David and his cronies has been concealed from the public for much too long.”Great writing there J.P.! HA!

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  9. You better be careful he’s taking over Kim Kardashian’s top spot. This clown is in the news more then The governor

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  10. This is why I am in the process of relocating my business OUT of Beaver County, and it can’t happen fast enough. As soon as suitable site is located I’m out of here. If my employees care to follow me, that’s great. If not, that’s great too. Crooked judges and cops, it seems that every one in local government is on the take.

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