WARREN — A Cincinnati attorney representing Trumbull County Commissioner Niki Frenchko is complaining about the actions of County Sheriff Paul Monroe, who was involved in an incident involving Frenchko’s phone at a public budget meeting Thursday.
Attorney Matt Miller-Novak wrote a letter to Trumbull County Assistant Attorney William Danso, who oversees the county government’s activities. Miller-Novak wrote that he was “appalled by Monroe’s apparent abusive and unlawful conduct.”
Frenchko suggested that nurses address some of the medical concerns of inmates at the prison, according to reports from Thursday’s officials meeting on the 2023 county budget, held at the county planning commission’s office.
As Monroe got up to discuss the issue, Frenchko tried to set her cell phone to record him. The next moment you could hear the phone hitting the table.
Frenchko said the phone’s stand was in her hand when Monroe tried to move it.
In the letter to Danso, the attorney alleged that the sheriff unlawfully seized her property, violating Frenchko’s Fourth Amendment rights. Miller-Novak also states that everyone has the right to record a gathering, under the state’s Open Gatherings Act.
According to Miller-Novak’s letter, “Video shows Sheriff Monroe quickly approaching Commissioner Frenchko’s phone while objecting to her videotaping. He picks up the phone. He grabs the phone while it was attached to my client’s body and slams it to the ground.”
The attorney is asking Danso to keep all records, records from that budget meeting and a commissioners’ meeting last summer where Frenchko was taken into custody after another argument with the sheriff over medical care at the prison.
“This includes, but is not limited to, emails, text messages, phone logs, social media messages, phone records and any other tangible, physical or electronic communication. This demand includes any phone, laptop, tablet, pager, smartphone, desktop, letter or even a scribble on a cocktail napkin. Any destruction of records also gives rise to additional claims against anyone who destroys a record under the Public Records Act and/or a requirement for expropriation,” the attorney wrote.
After the meeting, Monroe told the newspaper an MP who accompanied him to the meeting did not want to be recorded by Frenchko’s phone. At the time, Monroe said it wasn’t a “big deal.” However, Monroe could not be reached to comment on the letter.
When contacted Friday morning, Danso said he was aware of the letter but had no comment.
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