Ohio sheriff who took on Larry Flynt to retire

Associated Press

CINCINNATI — A sheriff and ex-prosecutor who took on Larry Flynt in a case depicted in a movie about the Hustler magazine publisher will retire after a 40-year career as an elected official in Cincinnati.

Simon Leis told The Cincinnati Enquirer he won’t run next year for another term as Hamilton County sheriff, a job he has held since 1987.

He was the county prosecutor who obtained a 1977 obscenity conviction against Flynt that was overturned on appeal. In the movie "The People Vs. Larry Flynt," Republican Leis was portrayed by Democratic political strategist and commentator James Carville.

As sheriff, Leis backed the county’s 1990 obscenity prosecution of an art museum for a display of homoerotic photographs by Robert Mapplethorpe. A jury acquitted the museum and its director of obscenity-related counts, and the exhibit hit record attendance numbers.

Leis also served as a common pleas court judge before becoming sheriff and handily winning re-election every four years.

The 77-year-old Leis has been unhappy with pressure by county officials to slash his budget, and with unsuccessful efforts to get funding to relieve jail overcrowding. In recent years, he also has butted heads repeatedly with GOP officials.

He said his chief deputy since 1997, Sean Donovan, will run for sheriff in 2012. Hamilton County Democrats hope to have a strong challenger for the office.

Copyright 2011 Associated Press

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