Release of grand jury transcripts blocked

Larry Limpf

News Editor

The Ohio Sixth District Court of Appeals has issued three opinions involving a man who’d been declared a vexatious litigator and blocks him from obtaining a court order against Ottawa County Common Pleas Court Judge Bruce Winters.
In May, Charles Tingler sought permission from the appeals court to file a motion compelling Judge Winters to release the transcripts and audio recordings of a 2018 grand jury case in which he was indicted for engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity. He was not convicted as the case was dismissed pursuant to a plea agreement in November 2019.
Tingler argued he needed the transcripts to validate a grand jury had actually been empanelled.
But the appeals court ruled he wasn’t entitled to the transcripts/recordings.
“Tingler believes that the prosecutor fabricated the existence of the grand jury,” the appeals court wrote. “Upon review, Tingler has not shown a particularized need for disclosure of the transcripts from a four-year-old indictment in a case that was dismissed with prejudice. As such, this court is not satisfied that Tingler’s effort to compel this disclosure is not an abuse of process, nor is the court satisfied that there are reasonable grounds to proceed on this mandamus petition.”
The appeals court also rejected Tingler’s June 15, 2022 petition to proceed with filing a writ of mandamus against Ottawa County prosecutor James VanEerten to compel the prosecutor to present a case against Judge Winters to the county grand jury.
Tingler then filed a more detailed petition with the appeals court alleging Sheriff Stephen Levorchick and Judge Winters stole an AR-15 rifle from the sheriff’s office and the judge took it to his residence. That request was also rejected.
On June 27, 2022, VanEerten filed a complaint against Tingler, seeking to have him declared a vexatious litigator. The complaint alleged Tingler in 2022 filed 25 civil actions or appeals in the Ottawa County Common Pleas Court and Sixth District Court of Appeals, two miscellaneous civil matters in the Ottawa County Municipal Court, five cases in the Ohio Court of Claims, three cases in Erie County and at least one in Huron County.
In September 2022, the Erie County Court of Common Pleas declared Tingler to be a vexatious litigator and blocked him from initiating any legal proceedings in the appeals court without first obtaining authority from that court.
In its most recent ruling, the appeals court upheld the decisions of the county courts declaring Tingler a vexatious litigator.
A section of the Ohio Revised Code defines vexatious litigator as a person “who has habitually, persistently, and without reasonable grounds engaged in vexatious conduct in a civil action or actions, whether in the court of claims or in a court of appeals, court of common pleas, municipal court, or county court, whether the person or another person instituted the civil action or actions, and whether the vexatious conduct was against the same party or against different parties in a civil action or actions.”


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