Trumbull Sheriff, Commissioners appeal court decision favoring Frenchko
Attorneys for Trumbull County Sheriff Paul Monroe, Commissioner Mauro Cantalamessa, former Commissioner Frank Fuda, and other county officials have filed a notice that they are appealing the ruling of a federal judge that found they violated the rights of Commissioner Niki Frenchko.
The notice was filed late last week appealing the findings of U.S. District Court Judge J. Philip Calabrese who ruled last month that Frenchko’s Fourth Amendment rights were violated by the defendants.
The defendants want the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals to reconsider Judge Calabrese’s findings against them and his refusal to grant them immunity in the case and, therefore, can be held liable both personally and professionally.
Among other instances, the judge’s 81-page ruling cited a July 7, 2022, commissioners meeting, where Frenchko was arrested and charged with disrupting a public meeting. The arrest occurred while former clerk Paula Vivoda-Klotz was reading a letter from Sheriff Monroe accusing Frenchko of dishonesty and demanding an apology from her. Monroe's letter was in response to Frenchko bringing up complaints from a resident regarding inadequate medical care for inmates at the Trumbull County Jail, which Monroe said, "had no basis in fact."
The defendants claim Frenchko interrupted Vivoda-Klotz and the commissioners until two Sheriff's deputies ordered her to leave the meeting and placed her under arrest. The criminal charge against her was later dismissed.
Writing in his opinion that "Here in America, we do not arrest our political opponents," Judge Calabrese ruled that Frenchko was wrongfully arrested, and her speech was protected by the First Amendment. The ruling also stated that the deputies did not have probable cause to arrest her.
It will be up to a jury to decide if some or all the men conspired to arrest Frenchko.