The Enquirer filed a complaint Monday against a judge who barred a reporter from attending a pretrial hearing in one of the most high-profile human trafficking cases in Ohio's history.
The telephone hearing was scheduled for Sept. 10 before Judge Patricia Cosgrove the case of Michael Mearan.
The former Portsmouth city councilman faces 18 charges in Scioto County related to sex trafficking. Prosecutors say he used his position as a defense attorney to take advantage of women and traffic them for sex. He denies the allegations.
Mearan was arrested in October 2020. He has since attempted to represent himself, tried to discover the names of the women who have made allegations against him and been placed on house arrest for violating the terms of his bond.
This month, when an Enquirer reporter requested access to the hearing, Cosgrove denied the request saying attorney-client privileged information would be discussed in the hearing. Cosgrave is a visiting judge from Summit County.
The complaint, filed in the Fourth Appellate District of Ohio, states lawyers for both the prosecution and the defense likely attended the hearing and that Cosgrove previously held telephone pretrial proceedings without allowing access to the press.
All pretrial hearings are open to the public by default unless "closure is essential to preserve higher values" and the order for closure is "narrowly tailored" to serve that interest, the complaint states.
A jury trial for Mearan is scheduled to begin Jan. 18. As of Tuesday, no other hearings in his case are scheduled before that date, but it is not uncommon for new hearings to be scheduled and trial dates to change in major felony cases.