Thursday, December 5, 2019
A former Ohio magistrate has been charged with violations of the Code of Judicial Conduct for an incident with a person who was seeking a civil protection order but came too late to be heard that day.
WCPO 9 Cincinnati had the details
A Hamilton County Common Pleas Court magistrate says he was forced to resign this week after video cameras caught him chasing a woman down courthouse hallways and leading her by hand into his courtroom, then ordering her arrested, sparking a violent incident that spread from his courtroom to the jail.
Former Magistrate Michael Bachman told the WCPO I-Team that Court Administrator Patrick Dressing personally told him Monday to “resign or be terminated.”
"I think the video speaks for itself," Bachman told the I-Team in his defense. "I didn’t choke her or manhandle her. I merely put my hand up to guide her to the courtroom.”
I-Team: 'Was the mistake touching her?
Bachman: “Apparently it was.”
Bachman told WCPO he left the bench to confront Kassandra Jackson on Sept. 4 because she was yelling outside his courtroom and disrupting a hearing.
As the video begins, you can see Jackson trying to file for a protection order, but staffers told her she missed the deadline and would have to come back. Witnesses say Jackson got angry and argued with them, and Bachman claimed he couldn't hear an attorney question a witness.
Nine seconds after Jackson walked away, Bachman charged through the door to the hallway. Bachman jogged after her, pointing at her and ordering her to return to his courtroom. He caught up to her at the public elevators and they started walking back together.
As Jackson started to go down a side hallway, Bachman put his hand on the back of her shoulder and guided her back on the correct path, then kept his hand there for 23 seconds until he pushed her into a seat in the jury box. Bachman and Jackson continued talking.
WATCH Bachman chase Jackson and lead her to his courtroom below:
Once in the courtroom, the incident almost immediately flared up when Bachman notified Jackson that she was being arrested for contempt of court.
Jackson resisted two deputies’ attempts to arrest her. The deputies, assisted by courtroom staff, struggled to subdue her. Once Jackson was handcuffed, she still resisted and those deputies and several others dragged her down hallways and elevators to the Justice Center.
They restrained her to chairs and later removed her in a restraint chair.
Jackson was freed two days later by presiding Judge Kim Wilson Burke. Burke ordered the contempt charge and rest of Jackson's 10-day sentence dropped “for good cause.”
In his contempt citation on Sept. 4, Bachman said the incident started when Jackson “was witnessed becoming belligerent and heard screaming loudly in the halls."
WATCH deputies drag Jackson to jail below:
The citation went on to say:
“Kassandra Jackson’s conduct interrupted the hearing and the court ordered her to return to the courtroom. Kassandra Jackson refused to return and had to be forcefully brought back to the courtroom. Upon learning she was being held in contempt of court and imposing a three-day sentence, Kassandra Jackson resisted arrest and attempted to flee the custody of deputies. The court then added seven days to the sentence.”
Bachman ended by saying he imposed the sentence for “disrespectful and disruptive behavior.”
Two longtime Hamilton County judges told the I-Team they can't remember a case like this one - where a judge or magistrate charged out of a courtroom, and pursued someone down a hallway, pointing at them and talking to them, then literally put a hand on that person from the hallway to a chair in the courtroom.
Cincinnati.com recited some prior issues
In more than 10 years as a magistrate, Bachman sent dozens to jail. Nearly 40 people in all were sentenced to approximately 435 days for contempt since 2007, the records show.
Most of the offenses involved only profanity.
In his first such order, in early 2007, Bachman put a man in jail for a month because he told the magistrate, "You're a d---head," according to the records.
Later that year, he sentenced a woman to three days after she "stuck out her tongue and pretended to 'moon' the court."
In 2009, he threw a man in jail for a month for saying, "I don't give a f---."
In 2010, Bachman ordered a woman spend 20 days in jail for "refusing to remain silent," arguing and not sitting in a specified place when ordered to, the records show.
A woman denied a temporary protection order screamed in the hallways, for which Bachman sentenced her to one day in jail. She then ignored Bachman's orders to not reach into her bag and to set her bag down, so he gave her two more days.
The records show some inconsistencies in Bachman's punishments.
In 2009, a man got seven days for saying, "This is bulls---." A different man uttered the same phrase about a month later but was sentenced to 30 days in jail.
A few weeks later, a woman uttered the same phrase, prompting Bachman to impose a $250 fine.
And a woman who said "bulls---" in 2012 got a $100 fine.
No other circumstances factored into these similar cases with disparate sentences, according to the records.
The charges here were filed by Ohio Disciplinary Counsel. (Mike Frisch)