Time's running out for Jimmy Dimora or Tim Hagan or someone else in county politics to make one last bid for most controversial figure of 2009, after Prosecutor Bill Mason's late-game surge. Last week the Plain Dealer reported that Mason had attempted to get involved in a personal injury lawsuit overseen by Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Judge Nancy Russo. Mason, according to the PD, called and even visited Russo's office on behalf of the man, Frank Sidari. Mason says he has no relationship with the Sidari (who he apparently knew in high school) and tells the PD that didn't do anything inappropriate. Russo, however, says she was "baffled" by Mason's meddling and questioned the ethics of such a move.
That was just the latest headline in a busy year for the politically powerful prosecutor.
January 2009: Mason finally makes a move in the long-running open discovery argument. As defense lawyers complain that prosecutors routinely withhold evidence that could favor defendants, and public pressure mounts, Mason concedes to the critics and sets up a Web-based document system that gives defense lawyers access to police reports and other case documents. Despite the new setup, Mason promises to appeal the open discovery rule.
March: Mason attacks Cuyahoga County Judge Joan Synenberg, saying the judge holds a bias against prosecutors in the case of death row inmate Joe D'Ambrosio. Synenberg accuses Mason of provoking her in an attempt to get her disqualified from the case. The Ohio Supreme Court finds nothing wrong with Synenberg's behavior.
Also in March, reports mention Mason as a possible candidate for Secretary of State.