After bringing “shame and embarrassment to the legal profession”, Prosecutor Chris Becker wants to be a judge?!

Tim Tolka
5 min readApr 12, 2024

After 33 as a prosecutor, Chris Becker wants to be a judge of the common pleas court.

This is a guy who used to tweet out pictures of the defendants (without their knowledge) from the very courtroom where he worked.

Far from fearing punishment, Becker identified his location on Foursquare, declaring his intention to send those before the court to prison.

On the one hand, it is not improper to relish the enforcement of the law, but there’s a line that Chris Becker repeatedly, invariably crossed.

Chris Becker labels people caught up in the system as whackos, turkeys, fools, clowns, jokers, unwashed and dirty creatures, and terrible people, commenting on their poor fashion choices, as they sit in belly cuffs and orange scrubs, hoping for a fair trial.

Once attention became focused on Becker’s tweets and questions arose about whether this was inappropriate, Dennis Watkins, Becker’s boss, defended him, saying that Becker had adhered to the office’s policy concerning conduct and behavior as well as to the code of professional responsibility.

That was to be expected. In Trumbull County, the criminal justice system has long lacked any sense of fairness. There was a two-tiered system; one for people who were connected and another for everyone else. This resulted in punishment so disparate that the Justice Department had to spend years auditing the Warren police. They were strip-searching black motorists and beating them up during routine traffic stops.

Officers like Chuck List and Robert Massucci were able to hurt people, and not only were they never held accountable, but they were able to skate on charges when they committed crimes. List led his fellow officers on a chase which ended with him refusing a breathalyzer. When the arresting officer avoided saying his name by saying his badge number over the radio. List was untouchable because he was the godson of Chief of Police John Mandopolous, aka “Mando.” For his nine-year tenure, Chief Mando never disciplined any officer for mistreating residents.

Sergeant Robert Massucci was not punished after bashing a black man over the head with his baton in 2003. After a recent brawl with shots fired at a bowling alley, his son Anthony Massucci avoided charges for Felony 3 strangulation in the same court where Becker now wants to sit as a judge. Cops and their relatives always seem to skate on charges because the prosecutors always refuse to indict.

I’m sure everybody remembers how Chris Becker declined to charge the officers who shot Matthew Burroughs, an unarmed black man who fled from police in his car. One witness who saw the shooting was too afraid to speak about it, for fear of reprisal. Chris Becker managed the review of the case, during which the prosecutor’s office held back the video for months.

These aren’t even the worst examples; I could go on ad naseum. The pattern has a long, painful history in Trumbull County because of officials like Prosecutor Chris Becker who invariably refused to punish criminals when they wore a badge or worked for the city government. Becker played an important role in a corrupt system that rewards friends and punishes enemies or anybody unlucky enough to not have a relative in the prosecutor’s office or the police department.

This system was exposed over and over and over again. Law enforcement and their buddies in the judicial branch could stop their relatives from being charged in other jurisdictions. They could stop their affairs with other public servants from coming out in the press. They could kill somebody and alter the way the crime scene was described in the public record. This kind of chicanery is the topic of constant local gossip in Trumbull County.

This type of corruption is part of the reason residents complain about Trumbull County. Officials have been able to play musical chairs with public sector jobs, as shown in the case of Traci Timko-Sabau who was a prosecutor, a legal adviser to the WPD, worked in the law director’s office, and later ran for judge. Fortunately, she was defeated, much to her fury and chagrin. And the same must happen to Chris Becker.

His own words disqualify him.

No one can be sure that Becker’s view of the role of the judge in administering justice isn’t the same as he describes for himself as a prosecutor (below).

Chris Becker lacks the temperament to fairly dispense justice. He expresses his biases plainly in these various public statements that he only erased after they were exposed to an audience beyond Trumbull County.

This is also evident in the way he summarizes his career as a prosecutor on his campaign website. Essentially, he refers to two death penalty cases, the extradition of a Brazilian woman who murdered her husband, and one other double homicide. Murder cases are very important, but fortunately, they are a minority of the many types of cases that come through the common pleas court.

Most of the business before the court is low-level crimes involving mischievous teenagers and local ne’er-do-wells. Do you really want a man with no sympathy or understanding to judge your teenage son who is going through a phase? Or your cousin who keeps screwing up with drugs?

Chris Becker has never run a business. He’s never handled civil cases, which is half of a judge’s docket. He has only put people in prison without much apparent concern over their guilt or innocence.

Not known for criticizing people in office, the Ohio Supreme Court wrote of Becker’s tweets, “Please understand that we do not condone Mr. Becker’s actions. In fact, we are hard-pressed to find any professionalism and civility in Mr. Becker’s actions.” Although conceding that the First Amendment protected him from discipline, the Court wrote, “He has certainly brought shame and embarrassment to the legal profession.”

His opponent Sarah Kovoor has argued for both the prosecution and the defense. Sarah Kovoor has also handled civil cases. She has managed a business. If we want to live up to American ideals, aside from the question of political party, we must ask whether a person running for judge is fair. In great contrast to Chris Becker, Sarah Kovoor doesn’t disparage those before the court hoping for mercy or justice.

This is the first in a series of articles that will explore Chris Becker’s fitness for a position on the bench of the Trumbull County Court of Common Pleas.

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Tim Tolka

Author, screenwriter, and journalist. Author of Blue Mafia. IL, LA, CO, TX, FL, VA, NYC, DC, and SF. https://www.timtolka.com/