Lawyer Asks Judge To Get Off Iacona Case

MEDINA, Ohio (AP) - Audrey Iacona, convicted as a teen-ager of involuntary manslaughter in her baby's death, has asked the Ohio Supreme Court to force a judge to remove himself from her resentencing.

In his filing Wednesday, Iacona lawyer Niki Schwartz accuses Medina County Common Pleas Judge James L. Kimbler of having "demonstrated bias and prejudice" against Iacona, 21.

She awaits resentencing for her 1998 conviction of involuntary manslaughter, child endangering and abuse of a corpse for placing her newborn, Joseph Bryan Iacona-Clink, in a plastic bag after giving birth in her parents' Granger Township home.

Schwartz said he is troubled by comments Kimbler made at a judicial seminar about insurance law he led Oct. 12 in Middleburg Heights.

Schwartz obtained affidavits from four municipal court and common pleas court judges from Cuyahoga County who said his comments at the conference were inappropriate.

In her affidavit, Judge Shirley Strickland Saffold of the Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court said she told Kimbler that "... it is obvious he didn't like the defendant, and that he ought to recuse himself."

Kimbler has been ordered by an Ohio appeals court to resentence Iacona because he failed to state why he imposed the maximum prison term of eight years. Iacona has spent two years in the Medina County Jail.

Kimbler said Wednesday he did nothing inappropriate because judges are permitted to discuss cases with other judges.

Besides, he said, it was Saffold who brought up the case and said Iacona should be released.

"Why in the world a Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court judge is so interested in a case in Medina County is beyond me," he said.

Kimbler, who has 15 days to respond, said he wants Iacona to feel she will get a fair hearing in his court.

"I'm going to pray about this," he said, "and search my conscience and decide whether I should get off this case."

(Copyright 2001 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)