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Investigation into Butler County jury Commissioners causes delays

December 18, 2013 News Extra

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A state attorney general’s office investigation into the Butler County jury commissioners has delayed a Butler County Bar Association investigation into comments made by Commissioner Jim Eckstein.

Butler attorney Mike Gallagher, president of the bar association, said the association suspended the investigation, so the state investigation would not be tainted.

During the June 19 county commissioners meeting, Eckstein said Commissioner Dale Pinkerton, who is suing Eckstein for defamation, was politically motivated to support the May elimination of the jury commissioners.

According to Eckstein, there was an appearance of impropriety because there no longer was a safeguard against the possibility of jury tampering while linking Pinkerton’s name to county President Judge Thomas Doerr.

The bar association, which has an obligation to defend the judiciary from false allegations, on June 27 voted to determine if it should respond to Eckstein’s comments.

A three-person committee that included former Judge George Hancher began the investigation.

The state investigation came to light when Doerr issued a Nov. 22 order removing jury commissioners Jon Galante and Clinton Bonetti from the jury pool selection process.

Both jury commissioners were locked out of their office, denied access to the county computer system and lost automatic entry to the government center and courthouse via swipe cards.

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