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4 CHARGES FILED AGAINST HOCKING COUNTY CORONER MAY BE DROPPED

By The Columbus Dispatch  • 

A special prosecutor is seeking the dismissal of four of five misdemeanor charges filed against Hocking County Coroner David L. Cummin that allege he is not doing his job.

The charges were filed in Hocking County Municipal Court on July 23 by county Prosecutor Laina Fetherolf.

Fetherolf stepped aside to avoid a conflict of interest and appointed James K. Stanley, an Athens city prosecutor, as special prosecutor.

Stanley filed a motion on Monday asking visiting Judge Teresa L. Liston to dismiss three charges of dereliction of duty and one charge of obstructing official business for lack of evidence.

Stanley said he plans to proceed with a coercion charge.

Cummin’s attorney, Will Kernen, filed a motion on Thursday seeking dismissal of the coercion charge.

The judge is expected to rule on the motions at a hearing scheduled for Oct. 6.

Cummin has been locked in a budget dispute with the county commissioners. He says he needs more money in his budget, and they say he has retaliated by leaving coroner’s duties uncovered when he is out of town.

Fetherolf, who is running for an Ohio House seat, said Stanley’s interpretation of the law defining coroner’s duties differs from her own.

“Strategically, I think that he thinks it best to proceed with the strongest charge,” of coercion, she said.

County commissioners have said that Cummin blackmailed them into providing more money for his office by refusing to release the body of a gunshot victim for an autopsy until the money was authorized. Cummin denies he did anything wrong and has pleaded not guilty to coercion and the other charges.