Nursing Home Residents Ordered Into Court

CLEVELAND (AP) - Residents of a nursing home, some who have trouble getting out of bed, have been ordered to show up in a Cuyahoga County courtroom on Monday.

They were subpoenaed to appear at the trial of a county elections worker accused of altering some of the residents' absentee-ballot votes in last year's general election.

John V. Jackson, 79, of the Cleveland suburb North Royalton, is a former temporary worker for the county's Board of Elections. He was one of two election employees who helped elderly voters fill out their absentee ballots at Kethley House in the month before the presidential election.

Kethley House is a skilled-nursing facility. Residents at Kethley House do not typically leave the facility, said Alice Kethley, president of the Benjamin Rose Institute, which operates the home.

When Jackson was indicted in June, prosecutors said he recorded votes for George W. Bush on the ballots of at least five residents who specified they wanted to vote for Al Gore.

If found guilty, he could be sentenced to up to 18 months in prison for each of five ballot-tampering counts.

The nursing home got subpoenas for 43 residents, although only 21 of them still live there. Henry Hilow, an attorney for Jackson, said he subpoenaed 40 people. Robert Coury, first assistant county prosecutor, subpoenaed four, including one whom Hilow also called.

One ordered to court is 89-year-old Margaret Terman.

"I can't walk," she said as she sat in her bed cutting green and red ribbons for a holiday fund-raiser. "I can't stand up. I'm in constant pain."

Both sides say they won't force any resident who is too weak to travel to appear in court. Hilow said he would make arrangements for residents' special care needs.

"Whatever the nursing staff or medical staff recommends for these individuals will be honored," he said.

The judge allowed videotaped statements from two residents Thursday, he said.

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