When we last left James Martin ("The Cop vs. the Pot Smoker," February 15), he had just collected a $459,000 jury award for getting his ass kicked in an Old Brooklyn bar.
The Cliffs Notes version: Martin claimed he was minding his own business when off-duty Cleveland PD officer Patrick Brown dragged him outside and beat him. Brown's claim: Martin was loud, obnoxious, and urging others to "fuck up police officers" -- an imprudent twist of phrase, considering this was a cop hangout. So an unknown assailant named Mickey delivered unto Martin the beating.
Last November, a jury decided that the officer had violated Martin's civil rights and awarded him 459 Large. At the time, The Edge was ready to pronounce Shooting Off One's Mouth at a Cop Bar the growth profession of the new millennium. Since then, however, the earning potential has dimmed.
In March, Judge John Angelotta slashed the award to a measly 81 Grand by throwing out some parts of the judgment and reducing others as excessive. At the hearing, the judge noted Martin's arrest record, spotty work history, and penchant for profanity, pot smoking, and addressing cops in unflattering ways. Clearly, Angelotta believed the wages for Acting Like a Moron in a Cop Bar were due for a market correction.
Yet on March 27, Martin's lawyer, Joseph Jacobs Jr., fired back with a petition to disqualify the judge. He asserted that much of Angelotta's information was wrong: Martin had embraced steady employ, had been ticketed only for pot possession, and had never filed a $356,000 bankruptcy petition, contrary to the judge's assumptions.
Angelotta would have been aware of all this, wrote Jacobs, had the judge not "read his newspaper during numerous witnesses' testimonies, left the bench to take phone calls, and dozed off during other portions of the trial."
Yet the Ohio Supreme Court refused to disqualify Angelotta, since it can't throw a judge off a case that's already concluded. Martin could have appealed, but there was no guarantee he wouldn't land before a sleepy appellate court.
Besides, says Jacobs, "The judge's decision takes nothing away from the jury's verdict. They saw the truth." Angelotta did not return phone calls.
Arthur Tucker, Cleveland feels your pain.
Tucker is a Tennessee man who went to a Nashville hospital for his hour with the "Prostatron," the device that's supposed to microwave away one's prostate problems. It melted his penis instead. The tale of his nuked noodle aroused heavy sympathy -- or at least morbid fascination -- around Cleveland last Tuesday.
At NewsNet5.com, the website for WEWS-TV, visitors could find a story headlined "Medical Mistake Cost Man His Penis" at the bottom of the page.
Naturally, Tucker was suing the hospital, seeking $13 million.
At the story's end, readers were encouraged to submit their thoughts. "How much is a penis worth?" asked the survey question.
A glorious debate ensued, and by the end of the working day, a full 3,000 Clevelanders weighed in. Ten percent said $13 mil was "about right." Another 10 percent -- we're thinking The Edge's wife spearheaded this campaign -- said that was too much. A full 80 percent said "no amount of money can compensate for this." Castrating the doctors responsible was not an available option.
The avalanche of attention caught Channel 5 off guard. Though it runs polls almost daily, this was among the largest responses the station had ever seen. By noon on Tuesday, 2,000 people had voted. A similar poll on Thursday -- Do you think actor Robert Blake whacked his wife? -- received only 71 votes by noon.
"I'm surprised," said News Director Lynn Heider. "I don't know what the interest is in Cleveland."
Heider tried to arrange airtime for the polling data, but to no avail. Not even the alluring power of the penis was enough to trump a runaway train and the on-again, off-again execution of Jay Scott, the big news that day.