Summary Judgment Against Lavelle Sullins Reversed



  • Sullins
Lavelle Sullins, featured in a Scene cover story at the start of this year, has been embroiled in the courts since finding out that he had been featured on TV as a wanted fugitive.

...He wasn't a wanted fugitive.

Judge Robert McClellend shot down Sullins' claims of defamation late last year via summary judgment. The supposed rationale for that call went like this:

McClellend's ruling centered around an opinion that Sullins' "fugitive" status was, in several ways, essentially true at the time the episode aired.

Sullins had five outstanding warrants for his arrest issued at the time in March 2010. None of them had to do with his passing bad checks. Rather, they revolved around a series of situations in 2008 wherein Sullins failed to appear before the court or failed to pay a fine following traffic violations like having expired plates, driving without a seatbelt and driving "too slow." Hardly fodder to be labeled a dangerous fugitive on the lam. All warrants were canceled Nov. 16, 2010.

Judge Kenneth Rocco reversed the opinion earlier this month, which will pave the way for trial hearings. There are all sorts of droll comments on the case published in the opinion, though this line stands out as particularly illustrative:

"We seriously question the identification of Sullins as one of "Cleveland 25 Most Wanted Fugitives." If Sullins was one of "Cleveland 25 Most Wanted Fugitives" based on a charged of passing a bad check, Cleveland must be one of the safest communities in the country."

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Cleveland Scene. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Cleveland Scene, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at

Support Local Journalism.
Join the Cleveland Scene Press Club

Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state. Our readers helped us continue this coverage in 2020, and we are so grateful for the support.

Help us keep this coverage going in 2021. Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing membership pledge, your support goes to local-based reporting from our small but mighty team.

Join the Cleveland Scene Press Club for as little as $5 a month.