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John T. Corrigan, longtime Cuyahoga County prosecutor dies

3:48 PM, Mar 20, 2003   |    comments
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Corrigan was elected at age 33 to head the county legal staff in Cleveland that was larger than most law firms. Although he normally assigned assistants to courtrooms while he handled administrative duties, he never lost his early trial skills. In 1966, he took on defense lawyer F. Lee Bailey in the retrial of Sam Sheppard, whose conviction for killing his wife a dozen years earlier had been overturned by the Supreme Court. Corrigan did not persuade the jury. He was more successful when he obtained a death sentence after the six-week trial of Fred "Ahmed" Evans in 1969. Evans was the leader of a black nationalist band that engaged in the Glenville shootout in which three policemen and a half-dozen civilians died. Corrigan was revered by many police officers for his support and his hard-nosed approach to crime. He denied recruiting his assistants to run against judges he opposed, although many of his prosecutors did ascend to the bench. "I never met a person with higher integrity. He had phenomenal intelligence and an incredible sense of humor that the public didn't see," said U.S. District Judge Patricia A. Gaughan. "I'm glad I had the privilege of working for him for eight years." U.S. District Judge Donald Nugent is a former prosecutor. Corrigan's son, Michael, began in Common Pleas Court and now serves on the 8th Ohio District Court of Appeals. Corrigan served for more than three years as an Army infantryman in Europe and the Pacific during World War II. Corrigan, a staff sergeant, lost his right eye and hearing in his right ear during the Battle of the Bulge. He was awarded the Purple Heart and three battle stars. He carried shrapnel on the right side of his body for the rest of his life. Corrigan is survived by his wife, Virginia; a son; three daughters; and 11 grandchildren. Services will be at 11 a.m. Saturday at St. Clarence Catholic Church in North Olmsted.

The Associated Press

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