• Mike Burkons

My email to Cleveland Heights officials about their Prosecutor

On June 6th. 2020, every Beachwood Councilmember received an email from a Alix Noureddine, a resident who is the assistant law director and prosecutor in Cleveland Heights. His email alerted us of an incident he witnessed 1.5 years earlier where an off duty, out of uniform cop, who is also a resident, had a verbal altercations with a young man his teenage daughter was having issues with at school.

Noureddine's email described the incident as a “off-duty white, male Beachwood cop harassing a young black kid”. I take accusations like this seriously, so I pulled up the police report. I was surprised to see that immediately after this incident occurred 1.5 years earlier, Noureddine's official witness statement to the police was that he thought the off duty officer could have handled the situation better, but did not believe his conduct crossed the line to improper nor was there any mention of race being a factor.

I don’t know how you go from believing the off duty officer’s conduct was not improper directly after the incident occurred to sending an email a year and half later to the entire City Council where this officer works and lives describing the same incident as an “off-duty white, male Beachwood cop harassing a young black kid”. While this bothered me, I let it go and didn't respond to Noureddine's initial email.

Five weeks later, Noureddine sent me and others on Council multiple emails where he wrote, You, and your colleagues on council with the exception of James, literally didn’t respond to my email identifying a white Beachwood officer harassing a black child”.

These emails expressed his disappointment in Councilmembers for not using the power of our position to demand this incident from 1.5 years earlier be reinvestigated. Noureddine should know how improper it would be for a Councilman to do this simply on the insistence of a resident who is the assistant law director and prosecutor in the neighboring city, without providing any new information to contradict his original witness statement that this off duty and out of uniform officer’s conduct did not cross the line to improper.

After multiple emails from Noureddine over five weeks, I forwarded his emails, from my personal email account, to Cleveland Heights officials, alerting them of his conduct and expressing my personal critical opinion that his emails showed troubling judgement from someone in the important position of municipal prosecutor. You can read the email I sent here which has been deemed a “criminal act” under the illogical claim that by expressing criticism of Noureddine for the emails he sent, I illegally interfered with his First Amendment free speech rights.

It is important to note that no one in the history of this country has ever been criminally prosecuted for what I did, or expressing a critical opinion of anything or anyone, to whomever or however they choose, the First Amendment right to “free speech” only protects speech against official government sanctions and penalties like criminal prosecution but does not protect speech against criticism. In fact, the First Amendment does the opposite as my email expressing criticism of Noureddine is also First Amendment protected speech that the government can't impose a penalty for.

Even if the intent of my email critical of Noureddine was to "shut him up", which it wasn't, and it "chilled" him from continuing to exercise his free speech rights in the way I was critical of, it still wouldn't be an illegal interference of his First Amendment free speech rights, as these rights don't protect his speech against criticism.

It is hard to believe there are any municipal prosecutors that doesn’t understand the basic legal concepts of First Amendment law. This is why it is so troubling that the municipal prosecutors in three different cities (Cleveland Hts., Beachwood and University Hts.) advocated and/or played some role in the filing of these unconstitutional criminal charges, to retaliate against me for sending an email expressing criticism of Noureddine, which is also First Amendment free speech.

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