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The Edge 

Taking The Times to Task; Quarterback Controversy?; The Cheap Fix

Ohio Supreme Court Justice Francis E. Sweeney's suit against The New York Times was moved to federal court last month. Sweeney claims he was defamed in an April 13 article about the Sheppard civil trial. The article said Sam Reese Sheppard and his supporters believe a prior generation of prosecutors was behind the county's clinging to the Dr. Sam Did It thesis. "For example," read the last paragraph, "Francis Sweeney, who was an assistant prosecutor in Dr. Sheppard's second trial, is now a justice on the Ohio Supreme Court. He voted unsuccessfully last year to block Mr. Sheppard's lawsuit from going forward in court."

But on November 29, The Times printed an editor's note admitting that Sweeney did not participate in the Sheppard case while he worked in the prosecutor's office. Sweeney isn't taking The Times's bait. "This is hardly a retraction," says his lawyer, Don Iler. "It's an editor's note, not a correction."

When Mayor Mike White grandly announced that he has appointed yet another commission to study Cleveland's crumbling schools, The Edge was suspicious. After all, the panel plans to meet with everyone on the planet, study all of the other studies, and still have a report by January on this $1.8 billion problem. Our cynicism was soothed, however, when we learned that noted education and building maintenance scholar Bernie Kosar was among the commission's "honorary chairmen."

Expect the panel's final report to soon be languishing in a filing cabinet near you.

Mahoning County boosters must be red-faced after the indictment of James Vitullo, a former assistant prosecutor charged with taking $15,000 in bribes to fix 19 cases. That amounts to an embarrassing $789 per fix -- not even enough for a mortgage payment on a decent second home. If Mahoning can't rebuild its reputation for top-dollar racketeering, look for Summit County to overtake it in the Corruption League standings . . . In his recent assessment of the presidential squawkfest, Channel 5's Ted Henry, considered Cleveland's brightest TV legal mind, said the Florida Supreme Court had violated the "Equal Rights Amendment." Two small problems: The ERA never passed, and it had little to do with the Sunshine State's voting fiasco.

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