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Schedule conflict delays hearing on restraining order against Niki Frenchko

WARREN — The hearing to determine whether to make a temporary civil protection order against Trumbull County Commissioner Niki Frenchko permanent or dismiss it has been postponed to next Monday.

It means the emergency order in place requiring Frenchko to remain at least 25 feet from commissioners clerk Paula Vivoda-Klotz remains in effect until at least next Monday.

The hearing originally was set for today, but one of the attorneys involved, John Juhasz, had a schedule conflict involving a capital murder case in Mahoning County, so visiting Judge Patricia Cosgrove on Tuesday postponed the Frenchko hearing. Cosgrove is a retired former Summit County Common Pleas Court judge.

She was assigned to hear the case by the Ohio Supreme Court after the judges in Trumbull County Common Pleas Court recused themselves from the case.

The Frenchko hearing stems from a complaint lodged against her by Trumbull County commissioners clerk Paula Vivoda-Klotz. The incident involved Frenchko allegedly following Vivoda-Klotz into Vivida-Klotz’s office, closing the door behind them and locking it, according to a sheriff’s report.

There was video of the incident. On the video, Vivoda-Klotz could be seen walking out of the office through a second door with Frenchko following her. Vivoda-Klotz was heard saying good-bye to her co-workers and then leaving the office.

The first step in a protection order process is for a judge or magistrate to hold a hearing to determine whether to issue an emergency order. The initial hearing only involves testimony from the person making the complaint.

In this case, Cosgrove issued an emergency order requiring Frenchko to stay more than 25 feet away from Vivida-Klotz at all times. It states Frenchko must not enter or interfere with the home, school, day care or child care providers of Vivoda-Klotz.

It states Frenchko may not violate this order even with the permission of the protected person. The order also carries a warning that Frenchko could be carrying firearms.

After the emergency order was issued, Frenchko stated in an email the allegations made against her to the judge were “lies by insubordinate staff who are working in concert with establishment politicians to prevent me from carrying out my duties.”

The second part of a protection order is a full hearing at which both sides can offer testimony. After the full hearing, a judge or magistrate can dismiss the emergency order or issue an order lasting up to five years.

Full hearings involving complaints filed by two other employees of the commissioners office against Frenchko were also set for today, but they will be rescheduled for an undetermined, later date. Cosgrove refused to issue temporary protection orders involving those two workers.

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