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Sunday, April 20, 2014
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Published: 9/16/2000

Is there any defense for Carty?

Will it ever end?

Will the saga of the Carty Finkbeiner-John Skiadas Smackdown - otherwise known as the case of a mayor who allegedly roughed up a restaurant owner, prompting a criminal investigation of Hizzoner who, in a decided coincidence (right?), then served the complainant with a city notice of eviction from a still-under-construction, municipally owned location - will it ever, ever end?

Toledoans take this seriously, but I say: Basta! It's time once more to trivialize the news, have a little fun with it.

I spent yesterday talking to lawyers (address sympathy cards c/o The Blade), and found most of them as eager to make light of Smackdown as I.

Wanting to carry out my duty to frivolity responsibly, I wasn't about to just pull names outta the Yellow Pages. Instead, I called some of Toledo's most prominent defense lawyers. These are the guys (yeah, an all-guy lineup) that we glimpse on the 6 o'clock news, so appalling are their clients' charges. Guys in nice suits, standing beside clients in handcuffs and orange jumpsuits.

Like, say, Adrian Cimerman. How might he proceed with Hizzoner's case? I waited patiently though the strangely eloquent and notably long pause preceding his reply.

“Ohhh, I don't think Carty and I would get along. I'll stick with murderers and rapists, thank you,” he said. But then thought about it a minute more and, sighing heavily, added: “Oh, you know, I'd probably take him on. Gotta pay the bills.”

Jon Richardson, meanwhile, had a defense strategy at the ready, and a trendy one at that, given the whole “globalization” business everyone's always talking about these days.

“I would insist [the case] be tried at The Hague,” he said, referring to the Dutch site of the International Court of Justice, “because we can't get an unbiased jury in Toledo. Or anywhere else in the U.S., actually.”

Spiros Cocoves, meanwhile, must be more of a glass-half-full kind of guy. An optimist, he wouldn't seek a change of venue, but he does concede that jury selection would require special attention.

“You would want to make sure you get people who don't harbor grudges against the mayor. You don't need 12 [jurors], you only need 8 since it's a misdemeanor, so maybe you'd have a better chance.”

Once the trial got under way, Jay Feldstein believes utter silence would be crucial in mounting a credible defense.

“I would, under all circumstances,” he disclosed, “keep my client off the stand. I would never call him to the stand in his own defense. Never, ever. That would be a prosecutor's dream. It would go on for days.”

But my fave call of the day went to Bobby Kaplan, known around town equally for his skill as a defense lawyer and his, um, long-windedness.

It was, in all the years I've known the man, the shortest conversation we've ever had.

“Since I am representing Carty, what can I say? It would be inappropriate for me to say anything. You've reduced me to silence, and I hate you for it. I hate you!”

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Roberta de Boer's column appears Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays. Readers may contact her at 724-6086 or e-mail roberta@theblade.com.



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