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Letters to the Editor 

Letters published September 10, 2003

Point Counterpoint
A view from inside: As a former assistant prosecutor for the City of Cleveland, I do not believe your reporter Martin Kuz investigated "Weekend in Hell" [August 20] sufficiently.

First, I have found Assistant Prosecutor Gina Villa to be of the highest ethical standards. She has never played the "cop card," as Kuz asserts.

Second, officer Erwin Eberhardt is a gentleman and a skilled officer, who works by the book.

Third, the federal and Ohio Constitutions provide the right to a trial by jury in all criminal cases that carry a penalty of incarceration. No defendant in this state has ever had to advance a deposit for a jury trial.

Fourth, it seems to me that Ellsworth's attorney did not have sufficient criminal-law experience to try this case. If he advised his client to place a deposit for a jury, he was mistaken. A jury deposit is required in municipal court for a civil case, but never for a criminal case that has a penalty of incarceration, as resisting arrest does. Attorney Marta's statements make me wonder whether he knows trial procedure. A judge would never read a police report to determine a defendant's guilt or innocence. A police report is a hearsay document and is generally inadmissible.

Fifth, to accuse Judge Robert Triozzi of not looking at evidence offered at trial is absolutely reprehensible. Triozzi is one of the finest judges in this county.

Kuz interviewed an aggravated defendant who believes he was mistreated by police, but then did not interview individual witnesses or review the court record. Couple that with Ellsworth's HIV status and the implication of homophobia in this case, and you have a titillating, though not complete, story for your readers. Scene can and should do better next time.

Christopher R. Fortunato

What you see depends on where you stand: Martin Kuz's article, "Weekend in Hell" is an important reminder about unrestrained power.

It's important to acknowledge that being a good cop is one of the toughest jobs in the world. Every person at a traffic stop could be the dude on the run with a bullet waiting for you. Almost every person you meet is someone who does not want to see you. As Woody Guthrie's lament goes, "When you die and go to heaven, there'll be no policemen there." These folks aren't welcome -- unless we really need them.

Why? Primarily because they represent extraordinary power. There's the feeling among many citizens that the cops can do anything to us and we can't stop them. Recent examples include the Lakewood officer who committed rape and got off with a slap on the wrist. Or the guy who shot an unarmed man in his backyard a dozen times and was cleared of any wrongdoing.

I still flinch when I see a police car in the rearview mirror, even though it's been over 30 years since the boys in blue used to stop me on the street just to harass me with their nightsticks, goading me into fighting back so they could kick the crap out of me. They evidently needed some diversion from the stress of the day. I was just some street punk. Ellsworth is just an "AIDS-infected faggot."

We must ask ourselves what we must do to hold our police and our politicians more accountable. A free, democratic society cannot realistically tolerate unchecked police power.

River Smith

Pistol Power Forever
Spread the word -- but make it a small one: In Eric Davidson's interview with Johnny Rotten ["All Guns Blazing," August 20], he seemed hell-bent on determining how "reuniting the Sex Pistols" was something "new" in the career of punk's most notorious and arguably best frontman.

It would appear as though Davidson believed Rotten owed him an explanation as to why he is choosing to tour this summer. Pretty arrogant for some writer of a third-rate rag like Scene -- despite the fact that he understands big words like "promulgated." Sheesh! Has he ever considered the average age and intellectual level of Scene's readers? You're not writing for Harper's!

Anyhow, Davidson wanted to know what was "new" about the Pistols' latest tour? The answer is simple: Unlike 99.9 percent of the so-called "punk" bands that have taken the stage or released an album since 1996 (when the Pistols last toured and released Filthy Lucre), the Pistols' songs are not watered-down, limp-wristed crap that's not going to mean shit in six months. Never Mind the Bollocks has sold consistently for 25 years.

What Johnny had to say about rap, California kiddy "punk," and the whole music industry was so dead-on accurate, he should be given an award. His autobiography is so refreshingly honest and hilarious, it should have won the Pulitzer Prize. Eric Davidson, on the other hand, should have known better than to bait Johnny Rotten. As scary-smart as Davidson thinks he is, Rotten's smarter. Long live the power of the Pistols!

Rocky DiCarlo
North Royalton

All Sides Aside
The more, the merrier: I thought "Runway to Nowhere" [August 20] was very well written. Erich Burnett tried to show all sides, which is very rare in journalism these days. The only thing I was not crazy about is the fact that you called Talent Group and Docherty Cleveland two of the biggest agencies. IMI Talent management is one of Cleveland's oldest and biggest agencies around. Congratulations on the article.

Dominick Palazzo
Owner, IMI Talent

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Cleveland Scene. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Cleveland Scene, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

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