Saturday, February 3, 2018

Misconduct Charges Filed Against Justice Of Ohio Supreme Court

An Ohio Supreme Court Justice  has been charged by Special Disciplinary Counsel with ethics violations that include hearing cases brought by the office of his state Attorney General father.

The complaint can be found at this link as Frick v. DeWine. 

The allegations involve his active participation in Attorney General matters (he contended that he was orally advised by judicial ethics officers that he must recuse only when his father personally appears in a case) and, through various social media posts, "allowed his father convey the impression that he is in a position to influence [the justice]." 

Attorney General DeWine is a candidate for the office of Governor. The allegations state that "Respondent attends public events with his father, and his image is used as part of his father's public office web site and his father's political and social media presence." 

Thus, it is alleged, a "reasonable  observer" would conclude the justice must recuse himself from cases where his father's office is counsel.

There are two specific complaints - one involving a bar applicant - of failure to recuse.

Another allegation involves a paid summer job given he solicited on behalf of his son - not a law student - with a prosecutor's office. 

There are extensive exhibits attached to the complaint, including an October 25, 2016 letter from the justice's retained counsel that essentially appears to confirm the oral advice regarding recusal. reported on the charges

 A complaint accuses Ohio Supreme Court Justice Patrick DeWine of improperly hearing cases involving the office of his father, state Attorney General Mike DeWine.

The complaint filed Tuesday by a special disciplinary counsel also accuses the Republican justice from Cincinnati of improperly using his influence in soliciting Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters to hire Patrick DeWine's son for a summer job.

The complaint seeks the justice's disqualification from hearing cases involving Republican Deters and from Republican Mike DeWine's office.

Patrick DeWine's statement Wednesday says he sought legal ethics experts' guidance before becoming a justice and has followed their advice "to the letter."

An Attorney General's Office statement Wednesday says it doesn't advise any judge "on recusal decisions."

A message seeking comment was left for Deters.

A judicial panel will hear the complaint.

From the Columbus Dispatch (Mike Frisch)

Judicial Ethics and the Courts | Permalink


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