CLEVELAND, OH – In a February 14, 2023 declaratory judgement filing with the 8th District Court of Appeals, private attorney Willa Mae Hemmons (Reg. No. 41790) identifies herself as the “pro se law director” of the City of East Cleveland. Hemmons wants the appellate court to overturn the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections’ decision not to place three recall petitions on the ballot that she impersonated the Clerk of Council to file with election officials.
The recall petitions are an act of retaliation against the three councilwomen who exercised the duties of their elected offices to vacate the office Hemmons held unlawfully on January 26, 2023. Hemmons, a Beachwood resident, was criminally impersonating an officer of East Cleveland when she appeared before the elections board on February 13, 2023.
In the incompetent and unethical attorney’s latest legal loss to the city, taxpayers are now on the line for a $12 million police misconduct judgement; on top of the $100 million judgement against them for another police misconduct case she lost. Reports are circulating that Mayor Brandon King is contemplating a tax increase to cover his police misconduct debts.
The 4-member elections board met to hear a complaint Councilwoman Patricia Blochowiak had filed that exposed Hemmons’ criminally-obstructive and duty-exceeding acts. The legislatively-terminated ex-law director was there to explain how and why she submitted fraudulent recall certifications, in conspiracy with ex-Councilman Nathaniel Martin and attorney Heather McCullough, to election officials.
At issue are three recall certification letters Hemmons delivered to elections board Director Anthony Perlatti on January 24, 2023. The private attorney lied on official records that she was the “duly appointed” law director authorized to discharge the duties of city council’s clerk of council.
Hemmons’ claimed that because election officials accepted fraudulent documents that included her false claim of being the clerk of council pro tem; they were duty-bound to schedule the recall. Hemmons wanted the elections board to ignore Blochowiak’s challenge to her criminally-obstructive scheming, impersonation of council’s employee and election fraud. Board president and attorney Jeffery Hastings reminded Hemmons that she was responsible for the information she had placed in official communications to election officials.
Hemmons committed dereliction of duty when she criminally exceeded the legal authority of a law director to usurp the council clerk’s office; and to use its title to ask election officials to schedule recall elections against Blochowiak, Council President Korean Stevenson and member Juanita Gowdy. The mayor’s private contract attorney was using the law director’s office to create an unauthorized series of legal opinions they used to criminally obstruct a separate branch of government’s officers. At all times, Hemmons was abusing the law director’s office to push the mayor’s recall of the council members questioning his misappropriation and mismanagement of public funds.
On January 3, 2023, when he was removed from the presidency by council for a third time beginning December 27, 2022, Hemmons knew Martin was not the council president; and that Stevenson had fired ex-Clerk of Council Tracy Udrija on the latter date. They were identifying prospective replacements when Hemmons told election officials that Martin – a single member of council – had appointed her to discharge the clerk’s duties when she accepted the recall petitions on January 20, 2023.
Hemmons appears to have drawn the conspiratorial conclusion that because the council president did not have Udrija’s replacement sworn-in the day after January 3rd, Stevenson was refusing to fill the office. The duty-exceeding private attorney reasoned that she could assign herself to discharge the council clerk’s duties effective January 4th.
All of Hemmons and Martin’s conspiratorial acts were committed outside the view of the public; and without any notice to the council majority. Hemmons had no idea on January 4th if the recall petitioners would obtain the required signatures on January 20, 2023. Election officials didn’t buy her incredibly unsupported legal conclusions that failed to comply with East Cleveland’s charter.
If Hemmons had been discharging the duties of a director of law, she would have advised Martin he was criminally obstructing the authority of the entire council and Stevenson’s authority as council president. This message was driven home by attorney and elections board member Lisa Stickan. She told Hemmons Martin lacked the legal authority to appoint her as council’s clerk.
On the day she got Martin’s signature on the confession he thought was an affidavit, Hemmons used it as a criminal tool, along with a January 13, 2023 legal opinion, in a failed scheme to deceive council into believing her acts were lawful. Hemmons’ bogus legal opinion was not requested by three members of council as its rules required. It came 9 days after she claimed to have been secretly authorized by Martin to discharge the council clerk’s duties.
Hemmons concluded, without citing a single state or local law in support of her frivolous legal opinion, that Stevenson, Gowdy and Blochowiak lacked the “disinterest” to appoint a clerk because the recall petitions were directed at them. She claimed only Martin could discharge the duties of the council presidency that he’d been removed from the day before. Hemmons completely ignored council’s 5th member, Lateek Shabazz.
In a January 13, 2023 affidavit Hemmons prepared for Martin in support of her bogus claim of being a council employee, the obstructive criminal tool explained that he appointed the law director to work for the council as “clerk of council pro tem” on January 4, 2023. Council’s salary ordinance doesn’t include a job description for clerk of council pro tem. Neither Martin nor Hemmons possessed the legal authority to create the job title outside of a public meeting of council.
Martin may not be aware his affidavit is an admission that he criminally obstructed Stevenson’s authority in a secret scheme with Hemmons and McCullough the day after he was removed from the presidency. McCullough, a private attorney discharging the duties of deputy director of law, attested to Martin’s signed confession as notary.
Martin’s appointment claim on its face required him to administer Hemmons an oath of office to discharge the clerk of council’s duties before she entered the office. These instructions are found in Section 705.28 of the Ohio Revised Code. As law director and council’s alleged clerk, Hemmons should have filed her oath of office in the council office to comply with the mandatory duty.
What Councilwoman Gowdy raised about Hemmons’ presence, after her first council election in 2019, was the private attorney’s oath was not in the council office in compliance with Ohio’s oath law. Neither were those of the director of finance, deputy law director and other employees of the city.
Council approved a two year contract with two, one year extensions for Hemmons in January 2015; and never exercised its extension clause by resolution. Neither ex-mayor Gary Norton, nor current Mayor Brandon King, publicly-administered Hemmons an oath of office to discharge the law director’s duties long after her contract expired in January 2017.
Hemmons cannot deliver oaths of office to the elections board to affirm her false claim of being duly-authorized to discharge the duties of either the director of law or council clerk. She simply refuses to act within the law and leave the public office she has usurped.
The use of the “law director’s” title and “pro se” reflects the personal and unauthorized nature of Hemmons’ appellate court filing and pleading. The term “pro se” is defined “for oneself.”
There is no section of Title 7 of the Ohio Revised Code that authorizes a fired ex-law director to file a personal pro se request for a declaratory judgement on behalf of a municipal corporation. To prosecute an action on behalf of East Cleveland, Hemmons needed a resolution or ordinance from council that authorized her to file it. The statutory instructions to the unethical private attorney are found in Section 733.53 of the Ohio Revised Code under the heading, “Duties to suits.”
“The city director of law, when required to do so by resolution of the legislative authority of the city, shall prosecute or defend on behalf of the city, all complaints, suits, and controversies in which the city is a party, and such other suits, matters, and controversies as he is, by resolution or ordinance, directed to prosecute. He shall not be required to prosecute any action before the mayor of the city for the violation of an ordinance without first advising such action.”
Hemmons’ request for a declaratory judgement against the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections is not authorized by resolution of the city’s legislative authority. She has no legal authority to use the title of a vacant office of the municipal corporation King must fill in the manner spelled out by law.
Gowdy has a trail of public correspondence showing how she has ripped Hemmons for impersonating East Cleveland’s director of law without an oath or legislative authorization from council since 2019. When council voted to vacate the rogue law director’s office on January 26, 2023, the resolution noted how she’s, personally, settled cases without legislative approval; and privately represented the interests of the mayor and employees when they’ve conflicted with the city’s or council.
Even in the recall public drama, King delivered an anti-council message to East Cleveland residents on YouTube; and omitted his attorney’s criminal obstruction. He claimed residents had hired a law firm to file an action against the elections board.
The only filing is the declaratory judgement Hemmons is representing to the court she’s submitted as East Cleveland’s pro se and legislatively-terminated director of law. Because King continues to give her access to city hall, Hemmons believes she can ignore the resolution the law director is required advise him to enforce. King’s words, associated with Hemmons’ court filing, implies she’s, again, representing clients on both sides of an opposing argument.
Pursuant to Section 113(A) of East Cleveland’s charter, it’s the mayor’s duty to obey and enforce the ordinances and resolutions of council. Hemmons’ continued impersonation of East Cleveland’s law director is enabled by King; a mayor who her presence affirms is openly conspiring with to engage in criminal dereliction of duty. What East Cleveland residents should know is King is abusing the mayor’s office to retaliate against the members of council who supported the recall against him in 2021.
By her own words and self-created records, Hemmons has given the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections evidence for a dismissal of her declaratory judgement, to refer the rogue attorney to the Supreme Court of Ohio’s disciplinary counsel and for election fraud, among other charges, to the prosecuting attorney.