Short Take: The Disgraced Judge’s Palimpsest

Aisha Fraser Mason was stabbed to death in her home in Shaker Heights. Who could have seen this coming? Well, anyone who cared to look.

Mason in August 2014 punched his then-wife 20 times and slammed her head against the dashboard of his car five times, breaking her orbital bone.

The couple’s children were in the back of the car when the attack occurred.

At the time, Lance Mason was called “judge.” Before that, he served in the state legislature. After his release from prison, serving nine months of a two year sentence, he was hired by Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson as a minority business development director. Not only did he hold positions of trust and power before and after, but he held them despite the harm he inflicted on his wife and children and the indicia of other “issues” that arose following his arrest for the brutal beating.

Mason drove home after the attack. A family member reported to Cleveland police that he might attempt suicide, but Mason surrendered. Officers searching his home at the time found smoke grenades, semi-automatic rifles, a sword, a bulletproof vest and more than 2,500 rounds of ammunition from the home.

That’s a curious cache of weaponry for a judge, or even a state legislator. Following the beating of his wife, an act of such brutal outrage that it seems inconceivable that no one added up the numbers and concluded that this was a deeply troubled guy who had impulse control and anger issues that demanded address.

Yet, his sentence of two years for the beating, itself a surprisingly lenient sentence, was cut short when he obtained early release after writing the typical endearing letter of apology.

He was granted judicial release nine months later. Part of his petition for early release included a letter to Fraser Mason in which he apologized to her, asked for her forgiveness and said he deeply regretted what happened.

Mason wrote that he “failed as a husband, father, and a man,” and promised that once he realized he was “broken” he became a better father and man, the letter said.

“My responsibility was to love and protect you,” Mason’s letter said. “Instead of loving, protecting and providing for you and our daughters, I have provided a terrible example, and exposed you to rage and violence.”

That’s all very sweet, but so what? Is it possible the seething fury waiting to erupt was never noticed when he was on the bench? When he sat in the legisalture’s chamber? Well, it’s possible, but the cache of weapons suggests that there were clue, indications, that this was a guy waiting to explode. This was a guy who might do harm to others. As it turned out, that’s exactly what he did.

And yet, once he did, once he brutally beat his wife, he not only got cut a break for his insipid confession of failure, but he was taken back into the fold when the mayor handed him another government job. Who does he have to murder before anyone sees that this is a deeply troubled guy, a person who should never be put in a position of power over others, a person who does not deserve to be on the government teat, even when it’s Cleveland?

Aisha Fraser Mason. That’s who.

How no one saw this coming is beyond comprehension. The writing was on the wall, everywhere, and while the letter was nice if standard, it failed to conceal what should have been obvious to everyone. This was a guy with severe issues who should not have been in a position to do harm.

Yet he was, and his almost-ex-wife is dead because of it.

22 thoughts on “Short Take: The Disgraced Judge’s Palimpsest

  1. Hunting Guy

    “Officers searching his home at the time found smoke grenades, semi-automatic rifles, a sword, a bulletproof vest and more than 2,500 rounds of ammunition from the home.”


    That’s all?

    In Texas and Arizona he’d be a low ranking amateur collector.

    Really, having that amount and type of stuff is no big deal.

      1. Ken Hagler

        Absolutely, you can buy them on Amazon. People use them for airsoft all the time. I never bought any because they ones that us peasants can buy don’t generate enough smoke quickly enough to be useful in a fight, but I’ve got everything else on that list. In fact, when I read it, my first thought was, “why so little ammo?” I realize things are different in New York City, but he wasn’t _in_ NYC. Obviously there was a pretty glaring warning sign that this was a bad guy, but having stuff that millions of ordinary Americans have isn’t it.

          1. Ross

            Maybe not sheltered, you just aren’t in a position, or location, where you would know folks that legally have large amounts of ammunition, and higher than average numbers of firearms.

            1. Hunting Guy

              We use smoke grenades on the 4th of July.

              That’s nothing for ammo. Three of us go out for a day at the range and would go through more than that. Many of us, especially those that reload, will have 10K to 50K or more rounds, plus all the cans of gunpowder.

            2. RB

              Sheltered? Don’t you have friends in Texas?

              The link has me confused about what kind of smoke grenades he has. As ‘canisters’ is specified, I can only assume they are not the typical 4th of July colored smoke my son loves.
              Moving on, two shotguns, two rifles (one new in box) and two pistols is barely a passing interest, in my opinion. And a single sword?
              Compare that to those who collect cars, motorcycles, baseball cards, coins, stamps, teacups, and bespoke suits! (or swords, knives, etc.)

              As for ammo, what is a large amount? 500/1000rd quantities are common enough that the farm supply store just a few miles from my home has .223 on the shelf in those quantities, and .45ACP in 200rd boxes. Though the second is more a practical limitation–picking up 200rd of .45ACP isn’t a casual physical motion!
              Even for someone that doesn’t shoot really often, the quantity discount can be very compelling, especially with the way ammo prices continue to climb. And if you stumble across someone is getting rid of their bulk box…some of us are weak when it comes to getting a deal.

              Coincidentally, I’m heading out to the indoor range with our Boy Scout troop in an hour, fwiw.

            3. Jim Ryan

              The “…at least a dozen swords in the house at any given moment…” worked real well in Raiders of the lost Ark”.
              At about 2:00

            4. RB

              That distinction is probably lost on the unfamiliar, especially so in a tense situation.

              But! Back to the main topic.
              The first savage beating of his wife was writing enough to cover the wall in neon letters too large to miss.
              As LocoYokel pointed out below, the guns weren’t really part of this. They were owned and used (or unused) legally–otherwise the article would have made a stink about it–until he gave up that right (and the guns) by beating his wife. It’s possible the guns could have been his tool of choice if they were still available. Though he seems to have a preference for using his hands.
              Not that Ms. Fraser Mason would be any less dead either way.

              One of the other articles noted that he was not supposed to be within 500 feet of her or his children, but that may not be current. Also that she was stabbed at his home–obviously not a good place for her to be. And even if he served his full(!) two year sentence, he still would have been out in 2017 and presumed rehabilitated.

              All this happened on Chagrin Blvd. There’s a sad, sick joke in there somewhere.

              Just sad all around.

    1. Lee

      Yeah, but it sort of side skirts the issue of anyone with even a misdemeanor conviction of domestic violence being prohibited from possession a firearm.

      1. LocoYokel

        Does it? As I read it the firearms were found (and confiscated according to the link) during a search after the first assault, before the conviction. Maybe that is why he stabbed her rather than shot.

        1. Lee

          Oops. Now that I re-read it, I think you are right.

          My bad.

          Then I concur with the others – that would be considered slip pickins as a gun collection in Texas or Arizona. 🙂

  2. B. McLeod

    Maybe Mason didn’t do it. He probably walked in only to find somebody had got all stabbity with his ex, and, knowing he would probably be blamed, he panicked and fled.

      1. Lee

        Has he vowed to search for the real killer of his wife? (Maybe at all the best golf courses in the world?).

  3. John Barleycorn

    How come you haven’t posted up your nunchuck phots yet?

    Speaking of which….

    Do you have any idea why a significant majority of your readership consistently has no fucking idea if you are placing a show bet or an exacta box?

    What is it? Your “TRIFECTA” plans are too obvious as to be confusing or what?

    P.S. What do competent farriers and CDLs have in common?

    1. Fubar

      P.S. What do competent farriers and CDLs have in common?

      Examinations to enter the profession, continuing education requirements, and about half the time they work facing a horse’s ass.

  4. losingtrader

    It’s stories like this that remind me I haven’t visited Dreamin Demon is quite some time. I need a dose of even more brutal violence and child abuse , written in a manner that it’s often humorous.

    Your writing only provokes outrage.

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