Wednesday, February 28, 2001

Morgue case faces challenge

Defendant in photo allegations says prosecution unethical

By Dan Horn
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        A Cincinnati pathologist claims prosecutors broke the rules when they charged him with taking illegal photographs of bodies at the Hamilton County morgue.

        The pathologist, Dr. Jonathan Tobias, asked a judge Tuesday to throw out the 25 criminal charges against him.

        Dr. Tobias and Mount Auburn photographer Thomas Condon are charged with gross abuse of a corpse for taking unauthorized photos of at least 12 bodies at the morgue.

        The photographs show the bodies in various stages of autopsy. Some are posed with props, such as seashells and keys.

        In court documents filed Tuesday, Dr. Tobias' lawyer, Marc Mezibov, accused Prosecutor Mike Allen of “outrageous and unethical conduct.”

        Mr. Mezibov said Mr. Allen's public statements about Dr. Tobias painted Dr. Tobias in a negative light and made it impossible for the doctor to get a fair hearing before the grand jury.

        Mr. Mezibov said Mr. Allen had a conflict of interest during the investigation because the prosecutor's office also represented the county in a civil lawsuit related to the morgue photos.

        Although outside counsel has since been appointed to handle the civil lawsuit, Mr. Mezibov said the conflict of interest existed throughout the investigation. He said county officials shielded themselves from the lawsuit by blaming Dr. Tobias for problems at the morgue.

        Mr. Allen said the special counsel eliminates the potential of any conflict. And he said he did nothing improper by commenting publicly about the case.

        “I believe my comments have at all times been appropriate,” Mr. Allen said. “I expect the court to agree.”

        Common Pleas Judge Norbert Nadel will decide the issue sometime before Dr. Tobias and Mr. Condon go on trial later this year.


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