Legal War Of Words Likely To Affect Case

MEDINA, Ohio - It's a legal war of words like none we've ever heard before, 19/43 News' Paul Orlousky reported.

The defense attorneys for Audrey Iacona -- a teen-age girl who has been convicted of causing the death of her newborn baby -- have asked that the judge in her case step down for what he discussed with other judges.

In the filing made by Iacona's defense attorneys, four other judges agreed that Medina County Judge James Kimbler should be taken off the case.

19/43 News took an exclusive look at the filing, and examined the recommendations of the other judges -- recommendations that are now fanning the flames of controversy.

"At no point did I ever tell anyone at that meeting or since what I was going to do when and if I re-sentenced Miss Iacona," Kimbler said.

Despite his story, Kimbler is at the center of a firestorm.

While teaching a class in insurance law at a Middleburg Heights hotel, the subject of the Iacona case came up. Exact words are unknown, but in an affidavit, Judge Joseph Zingales said, "I regard his comments about the Audrey Iacona case, made in a public forum, way off base for a judge."

Kimbler said he believes that the code of judicial conduct allows him to talk to other judges about the case. He said that Judge Shirley Strickland Saffold initiated the conversation.

"Kimbler asked me if I would change my mind if I knew she had a previous pregnancy that she terminated," Strickland Saffold said.

"He has a predisposition against the defendant, and cannot be a fair and impartial judge in the case."

Strickland Saffold had no further comment, but Kimbler had plenty to say, challenging judicial conduct rules by criticizing the other judges, particularly Strickland Saffold.

"Quite frankly, if I never see her again, it will probably be too soon," Kimbler said of Strickland Saffold. "Most of these judges probably haven't read the code of professional code of judicial conduct.

"I think that Judge Saffold had an agenda."

Judge Mary Eileen Kilbane's affidavit described other judges in the room as incredulous that Kimbler was publicly discussing a pending case in the way that he did.

Judge Eileen Gallagher said that Kimbler should have declined to comment on a pending case, and he came up to, but did not "cross the line" for disqualification. Gallagher added that Kimbler should step aside, however, to serve the appearance of justice.