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Vivian Moon View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Vivian Moon Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Topic: RACIST DEEDS
    Posted: May 05 2013 at 1:16pm
Posted: 9:00 a.m. Sunday, May 5, 2013

State’s recorders sued over “racist” deeds

By Lauren Pack

Staff Writer


Ohio’s 88 county recorders are being sued by two Hamilton County residents who claim their civil rights have been violated by decades old documents that restrict property transactions based on race.

The two filed the federal suit just days into 2013, after apparently visiting various recorder’s offices during the first half of 2012 and requesting documents for specific plots of land, according to court documents.

In Butler County, Recorder Danny Crank’s office was visited on April 12, 2012, where they received a certified copy of the plat for an early subdivision in Madison Twp. dated April 5, 1953, that includes a restriction that states “Only members of the Caucasian race to own or occupy land,” according to the lawsuit.

No date is given for a visit to Warren County Recorder Linda Oda’s office, but the suit states plat restrictions in that office pertaining to the second addition to the Mason Heights Subdivision includes a restriction that states “the lots in this subdivision are not to be sold to any member or members except of the Caucasian race.”

On June 13, 2012, a copy of a plat for Casa Loma Park was obtained at Hamilton County Recorder Wayne Coates’ office stating “said premises shall be used for residential proposes only and shall not be rented, sold, leased or transferred to any person of other than the Caucasian race.”

In Montgomery County, a visit to Recorder Willis Blackshear’s office on May 8, 2012, turned up restrictions pertaining to the Grantland Subdivision in Washington Twp. that states “only a member or members of the Caucasian race may use or occupy any building or lot.”

The African American plaintiffs, who say in the suit that they are seeking to keep their identities confidential “due to the nature of this case and the pubic attention it may attract,” are asking for an injunction requiring recorders to ‘sequester’ the offensive documents, or to publish documents only when the offending language is redacted or obliterated.

They are also requesting attorneys fees be paid and compensation and punitive damage in an amount proven at trial.

Crank estimates his office has hundreds of documents with similar racial restrictions, but race was not the only restriction once included on deeds and plat documents. One neighborhood in Hamilton stated only Catholics could live in its boundaries. Crank said he has also seen documents that restrict Jews.

“I am not legally allowed to change a dot on any documents,” Crank said, adding he believed the lawsuit is frivolous.

“It is part of our history. To me it shows you how far we have come,” he said.

Oda agreed.

“Our job as recorders is to record history and as much as we would like to rewrite history, we cannot legally do it,” Oda said.

She said she was only in office a few days when she was served with the lawsuit and she had no idea what was in the documents in the office’s oldest deed books.

“You think of something like this in the south, not right here in Warren County,” Oda said. “It was shocking to me to know it went on here.”

Oda said the documents may serve as a reminder, so that history does no repeat itself.

Both Oda and Crank said if a court rule required the documents to altered, the financial and manpower costs would be great, requiring hours of searching and redacting.

Cincinnati attorney Zachary Gottesman, who is representing the plaintiffs, said this case is not about rewriting history, but it is about stopping the violation of the Fair Housing Act of 1968.

“We are not wanting to burn books … We are not seeking to cover up or bury this stuff,” Gottesman said. “We want recorders to not continue the perpetuation of this garbage.”

The violation comes from copying or publishing the documents, which discriminate on the basis of race, color or national origin, Gottesman said. He added that recorders redact personal information, such as social security numbers, from documents routinely.

Gottesman said his clients filed the suit after receiving documents on separate occasions concerning land that contained a reference to racial discrimination.

“Just saying it is not enforced is not enough,” Gottesman said. “The law changed in 1968 and recorder’s have continued to publish documents with racial restrictions.”

Butler County Assistant Prosecutor Roger Gates said the county turned the case over to its insurance provider, County Risk Sharing Authority (CORSA), and attorneys were assigned to defend the case.

The Columbus firm of Isaac, Brant, Ledman & Teetor are defending the majority of the recorders named, including Crank and Oda.

In a motion to dismiss the case filed March 13, attorney J. Stephen Teetor said Ohio law does not permit county recorders to edit deeds once they have been recorded.

“The lack of authority to change a recorded record necessarily includes the lack of authority to delete a document from the records of the recorder, ” Teetor wrote.

Teetor also stated the plaintiffs’ allegation that recorders’ actions have unlawfully infringed upon their liberty to live in any neighborhood they choose is false because such restrictions can no longer legally be enforced.

“It is well established law that racially restrictive covenants are void and have no legal weight, even were anyone to attempt to enforce them,” Teetor wrote.

Robert Perryman, one of three attorneys in the firm assigned to the case, said in a 1948 case the U.S. Supreme Court ruled racially restrictive property documents not enforceable.

In conclusion, Teeter said, “The fact that ancient documents reflect prejudices or wrongdoings of a bygone day is a reminder to us all not to ever let them reoccur; but that does not justify the punishment of the historians who merely maintain those documents.”

Perryman said he likens it to banning certain books from a library.

The attorneys have also filed objections to the identity of the plaintiffs remaining anonymous.

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wannaknow View Drop Down
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Joined: Feb 21 2009
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote wannaknow Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: May 05 2013 at 10:10pm
Let's change all history to be politically correct.   We can rewrite all the history books, who cares the cost. It's all about the ME and NOW!  My great grampa was a bootlegger. I want it to say he was an entrepreneur and not a criminal. The stigma haunts me daily.
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Vivian Moon View Drop Down
MUSA Council
MUSA Council

Joined: May 16 2008
Location: Middletown, Ohi
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Vivian Moon Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: May 06 2013 at 12:24pm

I have been researching for 40 years and during that time I have found numerous items and documents in many old court houses that would be considered politically incorrect today.
Many cemeteries all over the country had special sections for the burial of “colored people” or they were not allowed to be buried in the white cemeteries at all or
cemeteries where only certain religious groups could be buried.
I for one do not want these records changed or updated in any way.

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