Criminal defense attorney Gene Murray is aggressively defending his client against drug possession charges, in part by arguing that the city police chief, who took part in the traffic stop that led to the arrest, is not qualified. The Toledo Blade reports that Murray is seeking to call an important defense witness on this issue—Rocko, the police dog.
Rocko would allegedly be serving as an exhibit, actually, not a witness. He is relevant, according to Murray, because Rocko has a degree in criminal justice from Concordia College & University, an online institution based in the Virgin Islands. This is relevant because Chief McGuire has the same degree.
McGuire, chief of police in Fostoria, Ohio, has already been charged by a special prosecutor with lying on his job application when he applied to be chief last year, and will face a trial on the issue in March. McGuire allegedly misrepresented information about his last three jobs, according to the prosecutor. Murray argues that McGuire was not legally employed at all and so had no authority to make the arrest or the search.
Murray’s addition to the debate is his contention that both McGuire and Rocko have “graduated” from Concordia College & University, and that if the Concordia degree can be acquired by a dog—a moderately intelligent quadruped but one without opposable thumbs or the ability to speak English— it is not sufficient to indicate that one is qualified to be a chief of police. Murray attached copies of two diplomas to a motion he filed Monday, one bearing the name of John McGuire and the other naming one “John I. Rocko.” The filing did not explain how Murray knows that this is the same “Rocko” or, if it is, how Rocko the Dog got enrolled. That is a little odd since presumably Murray enrolled him for purposes of this motion, but maybe there is more to that story.
The city officials who hired McGuire have backed him up. Among other things, they have said that his hiring was “not influenced by his college degree,” which I’m not sure is really what they meant to say. Meanwhile, McGuire’s attorney insisted that his client had done nothing wrong. “My client had absolutely nothing to do with any animal getting a degree from an institution of higher learning,” he said, thus completely missing the point. “The whole thing is bizarre.” What may be most bizarre about that is his description of Concordia College & University as an “institution of higher learning.” If it is, you would expect fewer typos on its website, and also a little more confidence in its “accreditation.”
The prosecutor handling the drug case said he would oppose the request to call Rocko to court, though he seemed resigned to the fact that the issue might be relevant. “I don’t think it’s necessary to bring the actual dog,” he said.