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Northeast Ohio Politicians, Attorneys Supported Lance Mason After 2014 Abuse

U.S. Rep. Marcia Fudge, D-Warrensville Heights, and numerous people in Northeast Ohio’s legal and political world wrote in support of Lance Mason as he faced legal consequences for a 2014 attack on his wife, Aisha Fraser.

Mason was arrested this weekend in connection with Fraser’s fatal stabbing. Shaker Heights police have charged him with felonious assault, saying he rammed a police cruiser with his car. Police say more charges are coming.

In the years after the 2014 attack, Mason’s colleagues wrote letters saying the physical assault, which left Fraser hospitalized and required surgery for a broken orbital bone, was uncharacteristic for the former Cuyahoga County judge and state legislator.

Fudge, who on Tuesday abandoned a potential bid for speaker of the House, wrote to the county prosecutor before Mason’s 2015 sentencing on domestic violence and attempted felonious assault charges.

“Lance accepts full responsibility for his actions and has assured me that something like this will never happen again,” Fudge wrote, calling Mason a “good man who made a very bad mistake.”

Lance Mason's attorneys included this letter from U.S. Rep. Marcia Fudge as part of their legal filing asking for the minimum sentence in the judge's domestic violence case. 

Mason’s attorneys submitted the letter to Judge Patricia Cosgrove as part of a memorandum requesting the minimum sentence. Cosgrove sentenced Mason to two years in prison, later granting him early release after nine months.

This week, after the 2015 letter was published, Fudge released a statement saying that her “heart breaks for Aisha Fraser.”

“I pray for Aisha’s family, especially her children, as they attempt to deal with this tragedy,” Fudge’s statement this week reads. “My support of Lance in 2015 was based on the person I knew for almost 30 years. The person who committed these crimes is not the Lance Mason familiar to me. They were horrific crimes, and I condemn them. I and everyone who knew Aisha are mourning her loss.”

Attorneys and judges also wrote to support Mason during the 2017 disciplinary proceedings that led to the suspension of his law license. In the letters, obtained by ideastream from the Ohio Supreme Court, Mason’s colleagues expressed shock at his crimes while praising his record as a jurist.

But attorneys writing for the Ohio State Bar Association didn’t find the letters convincing.

“None of the admitted character letters give any true insight into what led to the horrible events of August 2, 2014, nor do they provide any observations of changes to assure that such shocking conduct would not happen again,” they wrote in a brief to the Ohio Supreme Court arguing for Mason’s disbarment.

The Ohio Board of Professional Conduct, which made the recommendation to disbar Mason, cited “misgivings about [Mason’s] dubious explanation for the behavior, failure to provide assurances that the behavior will not occur again, and less than heartfelt engagement in the redemptive process.”

The state supreme court opted to suspend Mason’s law license indefinitely.

While many letters described Mason’s crime as an unusual departure from the norm, Ohio Domestic Violence Network director Nancy Neylon said such violence is “never an isolated incident.”

“Domestic violence is not a single incident of physical abuse, but rather that incident of physical abuse occurs in a pattern of power and control tactics,” Neylon said in an interview Tuesday.

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