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Bay Chief Boosts Sheppard

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Bay Chief Boosts Sheppard

Village People! Among the well-wishers at the Sheppard trial last week was Bay Village Police Chief David Wright. "I wanted to meet Sam and wish him luck on behalf of the Bay Village police," says Wright, a 20-year veteran of the force. "We certainly hold no animosity toward him. He's the victim in this whole thing, and if he can get some closure or peace of mind in the courtroom, God bless him." Sheppard has been almost preternaturally composed at the trial, convinced that the new evidence nails Richard Eberling -- no matter what the jury finds. "I'm comfortable we've solved the case," he says. "This is just a ritual we're going through to satisfy the state's paranoia. When it's all over, I'm looking forward to putting on a backpack and disappearing in the woods for six months."

Common Pleas Judge Ronald Suster got off one of the best lines of the trial last week, when the 1966 testimony of Detective Patrick Gareau was read aloud by Sheppard lawyers George Carr (playing Gareau) and Terry Gilbert (playing both prosecutor and defense attorney). When the transcript shifted into cross-examination by the defense, Suster turned to the jury and said, "Ladies and gentlemen, Terry Gilbert is about to fulfill a lifelong dream and become F. Lee Bailey."

On another legal front, the alleged case of racial discrimination at Euclid High is going the way of Al Sharpton's hot air. Attorneys Stanley Tolliver and Cynthia Smith had been gearing up to argue that black and white students involved in the school's oral sex scandal were treated differently. But a February 12 public hearing fizzled when they backed off and asked for a continuance, reportedly after reviewing evidence and concluding what Superintendent Kurt Stanic had been saying all along -- that the students were all treated the same. A few days later, sources say, Tolliver called Stanic and started talking about a settlement. Stanic, who refused to rise to the race baiting conducted by Sharpton and George Forbes during the affair, assured Tolliver he'll try to make the incident go away quietly.

Postponed indefinitely: The new Cleveland Firefighter Academy class, thrown in limbo by a class action suit challenging the CFD's affirmative hiring practices. "We will be ready to proceed as soon as this legal issue is resolved," says Civil Service Secretary Gregory Wilson. Don't hold your breath.

Not coming to the Rock Hall: A traveling Smithsonian show on folk legend Woody Guthrie, the first outside exhibit the museum would have displayed, were it not for one vexing problem. "We physically could not fit it," says Education Director Bob Santelli. The exhibit, currently on display in New York, includes rare photos, documents (including the original lyrics to "This Land Is Your Land"), artwork, and oversized graphics that were impossible to shoehorn into the museum's oddly shaped, progressively smaller floors. Moreover, the Rock Hall's glass skin makes much of its space unsuitable for showing sun-sensitive artifacts. The loss stings, since Guthrie was the first honoree in the museum's American Music Masters series in 1996. "Much of the Woody Guthrie renaissance started here," Santelli rightly notes. But the beneficiaries will be in New York and Washington, D.C. -- and next year, Tacoma, Washington. I. M. Pei, are you listening?

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