STRUTHERS, Ohio (WKBN) – Struthers Mayor Catherine Miller says she’s known Judge Dom Leone since high school, but in court Thursday she testified something changed in him at the start of the year.
Earlier this month, Miller requested a civil protection order against Leone. She claims that she feared for her safety because of Leone’s behavior as well as what she’d heard from others.
“His overall behavior was just much more aggressive and much more vocal and very abrasive with everyone he spoke with,” Miller said. “From people who saw him in the community, from people who witnessed outbursts at the polls, different employees. His own court staff, his family members.”
During Thursday’s hearing, the police chief, as well as workers in the Struthers Municipal Court, all testified that Leone’s actions started growing worse in January.
“When he would see her, he would start saying things. Just not being nice,” said Cheryl Host, Leone’s bailiff.
Amsi Medina, the Struthers clerk said he saw it, too.
“It’s been a little aggressive and uncalled for,” he said.
Leone’s attorney argued Miller’s issues were not criminal in nature but political and in retaliation for disputes over budget issues. He also used previous court decisions to show the judge’s comments, while vulgar, are protected under the First Amendment.
“A few instances of name calling, snide remarks, dirty looks and perhaps some rude gestures but without threat of physical harm,” said Attorney Peter Pattakos.
But Miller testified Leone’s behavior caused her to seek counseling and lose 30 pounds in three months. She said she asked for the protection order fearing what Leone would do next.
For now, the order remains in effect pending a ruling from the judge.