On Friday, March 15, 2024, Vernon L. Spence filed a petition against Judge Dale A. Crawford of the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas in the Supreme Court of Ohio.

The petition aims to obtain a peremptory writ of mandamus arguing that Spence’s constitutional rights were violated during his 2004 trial presided over by Judge Crawford. Spence claims that during the trial for case No. 04CR-6230, Judge Crawford, along with Prosecutor David Devillers and defense attorney Gerald Sunbury, misrepresented the nature of the case and failed to disclose that it was a civil matter rather than criminal.

Specifically, Spence alleges that the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas, where Judge Crawford presides, was administering bankruptcy through statutes and operating under color of law. However, Judge Crawford and others purported the case to be a criminal one. Spence argues this lack of full disclosure about the true nature of the action being civil amounted to fraud.

As a result of this alleged misrepresentation, Spence states he was unable to present an affirmative defense, and a default judgment was entered against him without him being able to be heard. He ended up being sentenced to imprisonment, which he argues violated due process rights.

In his petition, Spence cites various statutes and court cases to support his argument that imprisonment for debt is not allowed. He is seeking to have the 2004 case and conviction dissolved and wants access to what he refers to as his “trust.”

This is not the first legal action Spence has taken against officials involved in his 2004 case. He has previously filed suits against the magistrate judge and federal court that were dismissed. It remains to be seen how the Supreme Court of Ohio will rule in this latest petition challenging the role of Judge Crawford in the trial over 15 years ago.

A copy of the original filing can be found here.