Obama, Cordray were co-defendants in prisoner's lawsuit

John O'Brien Jul. 19, 2011, 8:55am

WASHINGTON (Legal Newsline) - Now co-workers, President Barack Obama and former Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray were once co-defendants.

The two were named in a January 2010 lawsuit brought by Raymond Engle, a former Ohio prisoner who represented himself while suing several Ohio judges, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont, U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts, Cordray and Obama, among others.

Engle sought $50 million from several of the defendants, though he only wanted $1 from Obama. He requested $10 million from Cordray, who was named by Obama on Monday as the new head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit recently ruled Engle did not have a case. He alleged a conspiracy that forced him to plead no contest to burglary charges after the state's Court of Appeals had overturned his conviction of burglary and gross sexual imposition.

On his claims against several of the defendants, including Obama and Cordray, the court wrote that "the district court correctly concluded that Engle fails to set forth a plausible, non-conclusory claim against these defendants."

In November, Cordray lost to former Lt. Gov. and U.S. Sen. Mike DeWine, a Republican, in the state attorney general race. He had been elected to the post in November 2008 to serve the remainder of the term held by the previous attorney general, Marc Dann. Dann had resigned in May 2008 amid a sex scandal.

Prior to being attorney general, Cordray served as the Ohio State Treasurer and as treasurer of Franklin County, Ohio. He also served as a member of the Ohio House of Representatives and as the state's first solicitor.

"The fact is the financial crisis and the recession were not the result of normal economic cycles or just a run of bad luck," Obama said Monday while nominating Cordray. "They were abuses and there was a lack of smart regulations.

"So we're not just going to shrug our shoulders and hope it doesn't happen again. We're not going to go back to the status quo where consumers couldn't count on getting protections that they deserved. We're not going to go back to a time when our whole economy was vulnerable to a massive financial crisis. That's why reform matters. That's why this bureau matters."

The bureau, which is opening its doors this week, was created by the Dodd-Frank regulatory overhaul and is tasked with regulating consumer financial products.

From Legal Newsline: Reach John O'Brien by e-mail at jobrienwv@gmail.com.

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