VIDEO: Judge holds media court

'I've been on national TV hundreds of times,' Crawford says. Watch his 30-minute news conference here on demand video.
Register
Apr 9, 2014

It was a "perfectly fine" grand jury, visiting Judge Dale Crawford declared in comments Tuesday during a news conference he called at the Sandusky County Courthouse.

"I am here today because people keep asking questions and I keep hearing the wrong answers," Crawford said at the start of the 30-minute presentation about the deliberations of the grand jury that reviewed the Jacob Limberios death investigations.

WATCH THE NEWS CONFERENCE VIDEO IN BOX BELOW

Crawford said allegations had been made, and referred to the Sandusky Register without being specific about his concern. He "had great respect" for the media, Crawford said, but "somebody is on a witch hunt."

"I don't know where the witches are and I don't know why the hunt is on," Crawford said.

A reporter from the Fremont News-Messenger asked Crawford if he was directing those comments at the Register, which has not made any allegations or filed any complaint with Crawford or any other agency.

"I just wanted to verify, we're talking about the Sandusky Register, correct?" News-Messenger watchdog reporter Christina Smith asked.

"I'm not sure where that came from. I was shown an article today," the judge replied.

"Is it coming from the Sandusky Register?" Smith persisted.

"I get stuff online," Crawford replied. "As a matter of fact, I hadn't followed this until, you know, somebody called me and said there's an allegation and I didn't understand that. I think it was dealing with the clerk's office.

"The clerk's office did something wrong and then (attorney general prosecutor Matt) Donahue emailed me, I don't believe I talked with him on the phone, and (he) said he may be filing a motion and I said 'go ahead and file whatever motion you want.'"

The Register made a public records request Feb.18 for documents required by state law in jury, grand jury or special grand jury selections. The request was sent to Sandusky County Clerk of Courts Tracy Overmyer and copied to Crawford,

Overmyer initially responded that Crawford had sealed the records under a secret gag order. After consulting, the judge, the AG's office and Overmyer all later acknowledged, however, that Crawford did not have the authority to gag those records. The AG's office asked Crawford to review the record after it determined a violation likely occurred.

Donahue, on behalf of the AG's office, filed the motion March 25 informing Crawford that Overmyer failed to follow a requirement to give public notice about the Limberios grand jury. The motion mischaracterized the Register's role in the decision, inaccurately suggesting the newspaper made an allegation about the apparent violation that Donahue detailed in the motion.

Read the court motion

Donahue, who like Crawford, drove from Columbus to attend the news conference, asked the judge to set aside the violation, citing another section in the Ohio Revised Code and arguing there was no evidence any grand juror was biased during the deliberations.

— FOLLOW THE LEADER

Crawford seemed to be following the example the AG's office set in suggesting that headlines in the Register and inquiries to public officials and records requests equated to allegations despite efforts to dissuade them of that notion. Crawford referred to a March 21 article in the Register under the headline "Tainted grand jury," which the AG's office on Monday alleged was inaccurate.

The article detailed the violation of the requirement that Donahue alleged occurred, which "tainted," the word used in the headline, the grand jury. The AG's office did not respond after the Register replied to an email from spokesman Dan Tierney requesting a correction to the headline. The headline appeared correct, by the definition of the word, Tienrey was informed. He was also told the Register would review it with him again if the AG's office disagreed with that assessment.

Tierney made a spate of requests on Monday for the Register to review previous articles for potential inaccuracies.They came after the Register sent out specific additional requests earlier that day to court officials, the judge, county commissioners, Tierney and the AG's office, the county auditor and the county administrator. The emails asked public officials to respond to earlier requests.

Crawford praised Team Ray Technologies, a vendor that provided the "random draw" required by statute, saying the company has likely saved county taxpayers money by providing an alternative software service.

"By the way," Crawford began. "This is a very excellent jury process used in this county and also probably saved this county over the years hundreds of thousands of dollars using this as opposed to what most counties use called Court View."

Team Ray Technolgies, a company in Bellevue, operates a service described previously by the the firm's CEO Ryan Ray as a "joint venture" with the clerk of courts office. Team Ray has been paid more than $324,000 since January 2010 in at least two arrangements for services with the clerk's office and the adult probation department, but it does not appear there is a written contract between the county and TRT/Rockware.

Some of the public records requests sent to county officials on Monday were followups on previous requests for public records related to the contracts and payments to Team Ray. 

Read related articles about Team Ray contracts

Ryan Ray has not responded to inquiries, and Overmyer has ignored questions related to the payments.

— THANKING THE ACADEMY

As he closed his news conference, Crawford gestured to Donahue.

Judge: "You give it your 100 percent?

Donahue: "I did, yes, Your Honor."

Judge: "Clerk, did you give it your 100 percent."

Overmyer: "Absolutely."

Judge: "Maybe you made a mistake?"

Overmyer: "There was no bias."

Judge: "Let me ask you a question: Do you know every statute in the state of Ohio?"

Overmyer: "Absolutely not."

Judge: "Alright. You'll make mistakes again and I'll make mistakes again."

The judge reiterated again that he did not understand the complaint in Donahue's motion asking him to affirm the grand jury, clarifying comments he gave the News-Mesenger last month that he suggested during the news conference were not accurately or properly reported by the Register.

"I don't understand what the complaint is," Crawford said. "I still don't understand it. If somebody could explain it to me please do so."

Geoff Mearns, a former federal prosecutor who was provost at Cleveland State University before becoming president at Northern Kentucky University in 2012, told the Register the selection process violation detailed in Donahue's court motion is designed to protect the rights granted in the U.S. Constitution.

"The constitutional guarantee is intended to instill the public's confidence in the fair administration of justice. Any time that guarantee is not honored, there is a risk that public confidence will erode," Mearns said.

The News-Messenger's questions all related to the Register's reporting and Smith was the only reporter to ask Crawford anything during the news conference.

The Register has made numerous inquiries to the public officials involved, including several to Crawford. Crawford never responded directly, but did forward the newspaper a message by asking Overmyer to convey information. Many of those inquiries, to Crawford and others, remain pending and others were replied to but contained answers that seem non-responsive to the questions being asked.

Crawford was unable to say when he would rule on Donahue's motion to affirm the grand jury.

"I haven't written anything, because, quite frankly, uh, I will," he said. "It will appease some people's minds if I write something and put it in writing."

 Crawford complimented Smith during the exchange they shared.

"By the way, thank you for using that picture because I like that picture," Crawford told Smith. "I see my picture in the newspaper quite often."

Crawford and Doahue both were asked today to be guests on "Between the Lines," the Register's public affairs talk program. 

David Pepper, the presumptive Domocratic nominee running against Attorney General Mike DeWine in November, is the guest on BTL at 5:15 p.m. today. 

Watch the video of the news conference in the player below 

Original article, March 8, 2014: Attorney General spokesman Dan Tierney inaccurately suggested the Register had made allegations or some sort of complaint that prompted Ohio Attorney General prosecutor Donahue to file a motion March 26 citing an irregularity in the selection process last year for the Limberios grand jury.

"The sources who made the allegations referenced in the motion are Andy Ouriel and Sandusky Register staff," Tierney wrote to the Register on Monday.

Reporter Ouriel nor the Register made any allegations, and that was reiterated to Tierney again Monday and earlier today. The Register is "not the source of the motion and is not responsible if information in it was misleading," Tierney was told.  

The Register did not, nor did any member of its staff, file any complaint or make any allegations. The Register also did not request the AG file a motion or instruct anyone with the AG's office to take any action.

Read the court motion

A public records request was made to Sandusky County Clerk of Courts Tracy Overmyer on Feb. 18 for public documents required in the fair and open grand jury selection statutes. The AG's office provided to the Register information it received from Overmyer in response to the records request.

Tierney became aware of the irregularity and other potential irregularities and he and Mike DeWine both were asked about those issues in recorded interviews. It was reiterated to both DeWine and Tierney that questions were not accusations or allegations, and the Register never asked the AG or any AG employee to take any action.

Tieney also stated on Monday that the headline "Grand jury tainted" over a story published March 21 in the Register and at sanduskyregister.com was inaccurate. He later appeared not to disagree with the Register's reply the irregularity represented a "taint" and the headline was accurate as written.

The "Tainted grand jury" news article detailed DeWine's motion to visiting Judge Dale Crawford that notified him of an irregularity. The motion asked Crawford to disregard it, citing a statute that addresses juror bias.

The fair and open statute in the Ohio Revised that wasn't observed — according to DeWine's motion — is designed to assure constitutional rights, according to Geoff Mearns, a former partner at Baker Hostetler in Cleveland, former provost at Cleveland State University and now president of Northern Kentucky University.

A violation of the public notice requirement is separate and distinct from the sub-section cited in the motion, Mearns said, which concerns bias or perceived bias of the grand jury among other issues. Tierney said prosecutors had no evidence that any grand juror displayed bias during the proceedings and deliberations.

It's unclear why Crawford asked for the news conference and it's unusual for a judge to make such a public statement about a pending matter before the court. Crawford did the same thing a couple of weeks ago when he gave an "exclusive" interview to another newspaper and appeared to refer to the motion from DeWine as a complaint.

The Fremont News-Messenger incorrectly stated the motions was in response to a complaint from the Register, but the Register did not make a complaint. Crawford told the News-Messenger: “It makes no sense to me where the complaint is,” Crawford said, according to the article. “If you find out what the problem is, I’d love to know.”

He also told the reporter that he had “been very busy,” and “quite frankly, it’s not something that’s at the top of my list to be doing right now."

On Friday he said he would probably review the motion over the weekend, but Kimmet — who announced the news conference — said Monday he did not know if a hearing on the motion had been scheduled.

Tierney also suggested previous coverage of the judge's comments in the Register were misleading and inaccurate. After an initial review, the Register determined the statements were not misleading but continues with Tierney other concerns he raised on Monday.

One item in the "Tainted grand jury" article not previously addressed was found to be incorrect after a review with Tierney. A grand jury called in December 2012 to review an Ohio AG investigation about the alleged sexual exploitation of a 21-year-old mentally ill inmate at the Sandusky County Jail was not a special grand jury.

That grand jury and the special Limberios grand jury both were no-billed. 
 
Judges with pending cases or motions normally do not hold news conferences. Judicial code puts limitations on the practice. 

A judge "shall not make any public statement that might reasonably be expected to affect the outcome or impair the fairness of a matter pending or impending in any court, or make any nonpublic statement that might substantially interfere with a fair trial or hearing," the code states. 

The only allegation that has been made is the statement by DeWine's office in the pending court motion the public notice portion of the fair and open statutes was not followed. The motion does not address other potential irregularities.

*

The Register has reported the difficulties numerous families have experienced with Sandusky County officials and has discussed those concerns with Attorney General DeWine in detail, asking questions families have raised. Click on the links below to read more. 

• Death of Lee Naus

• Isabel Cordle

• Trooper's sex lesson

• Stabbed, beaten burned & zapped

• Bryan Jones

• Limberios shooting saga

• Craig Burdine

• Sexploited jail inmate

Read the Ohio Revised Code statutes governing grand jury selection: 

 

Comments

Babo

This news conference is unprecedented. How can people not lose all respect for the judicial system in view of AG DeWine's and judicial interloper Crawford's appearance of lack of concern with due process and the public's perception that justice is not being administered fairly in Sandusky County. It would be great if a representative from the US Attorney's Office or at least the Disciplinary Counsel of the Supreme Court would attend this news conference.

Jeff Strongman

"The Register did not, nor did any member of its staff, file any complaint or make any allegations".  Really?!?!?  Was I just hallucinating then when I watched the BTL episode between Westerhold and the Attorney General on the phone? That's all I heard was complaints and allegations about the grand jury selection process.

Peninsula Pundit

Yes, you probably were hallucinating.
Did you select that new moniker while you were hallucinating, as well?
Ashton Kutcher does not live with you.
And you must still be under the influence of mind-altering effects if you think a guy that looks like that scores the women they have him with on the show.
Bring Charlie back.

Jeff Strongman

While I miss my brother Charlie, I must admit that I've been doing pretty well with the ladies ever since Walden arrived. I can't wait until Mila comes to visit

Jakes Dad

I have only ever disputed Jacob's suicide ruling and asked for an honest, fair, open and transparent investigation into the manner, mode and cause of my sons death. Is that too much to ask for?

Random Thoughts

Are you still pursuing your civil case to have the death certificate changed?  In light of the AG's conclusion that your son's death was accidental, I think you would have a very good chance of success.  Also, do you believe the AG's investigation was not honest, fair, open and transparent?

Blue.Streaker

Does the Register have a reporter at this news conference?

Blue.Streaker

The News-Messenger's reporter is tweeting as follows:

Crawford said he is here because questions keep getting asked and he keeps reading the wrong answers.

Says he's not intending to have a conference, but rather take the time to answer media's questions.

Crawford: "I have great respect for the media, and I hope they have respect for me."

"It's clear someone is having a witch hunt." -Crawford

"There is not enough evidence to go forward with criminal prosecution."

Crawford says the entire point of a grand jury is to be secret - that doesn't mean it's fixed.

He won't release the names of the grand jury, doesn't want them to go through what everyone else has in regards to the allegations.

Julie R.

This news conference is a bunch of crap. It's called a red herring.

Blue.Streaker

You complain and insult because these people will not answer your questions, then complain and insult when they do. What does that make you?

Peninsula Pundit

It 'makes us' even more curious as to what these guys are up to.
You think questions were answered?
'Crawford said he is here because questions keep getting asked and he keeps reading the wrong answers.' Your words.
He better check with the folks who are writing the answers,eh?
'Crawford says the entire point of a grand jury is to be secret - that doesn't mean it's fixed.' The inverse of this statement is also true. The questions being raised bear upon the integrity of the judicial process following its' sworn duties.
In the final analysis, nothing has changed nor been answered.
Did Judge Crawford, at the conclusion of the press conference, then take the affidavit that DeWine asked him to place his signature on a few weeks ago? You may recall it was merely to certify that everything was done in accordance with the judge's sworn responsibilities during this case?
If he did, I'm done with it.
If not, then why not?

Babo

Crawford has no sworn duties to act as a judge in Sandusky County as he has not taken the oath of office required under Art VI of the US Constitution or Art XV section 7 of the Ohio Constitution. In other words he isn't a real judge he just "plays one on TV".

Crawford was one of the late Chief Justice Moyer's go to judges that he "appointed" IMO whenever a high profile case needs to be controlled. Apparently CJ O'Connor is continuing that highly suspect practice.

Blue.Streaker

Crawford is sharing anecdotes about how he has gone about correcting past mistakes.

Prosecutor Matt Donahue is also here to answer questions.

Crawford: grand jury will not be set aside unless there is an indictment.

Crawford says no one would be excluded from the grand jury, even if they were law enforcement.

Blue.Streaker

Crawford says he does not recall anyone from Sandusky County law enforcement as part of the grand jury.

Jury was very fair and unbiased.

"I gave my 100 percent effort in this case." -Crawford

"Just because you might know about the case doesn't mean you can't be fair and impartial."

Blue.Streaker

Crawford said the Sandusky Register has never attempted to reach him.

Blue.Streaker

He said he has returned every call he has ever received from the media.

Blue.Streaker

The press conference has ended.

Julie R.

Why are the names of people that sit on a grand jury a secret, anyway? After all, it's not a secret if one votes or not. Anybody can check that information out. I personally don't believe that grand juries are kept a secret for the benefit of the majority of the people that sit on them. I think instead the secrecy is for the benefit of the prosecutor and "one or two chosen others" on the grand jury that unlawfully set out to reach a certain outcome.

GJ6SP

I know someone that sat on the grand jury...yes finally someone speaking out for them! Maybe the reason they've kept it a secret is because these people had to put their lives on hold, see things they never wanted to see, hear things they never wanted to hear, & then turn around after all they did to live up to their responsibility as a fair & unbiased juror listen to the ridicule & rumors that circulate that not only question the integrity of the judicial system, but that of the individuals that sat on the jury. They have families, jobs, friends...did anyone ever stop & think about how this could affect them? This is a witch hunt & I am tired of it affecting people I care about! I cannot imagine the horror of losing a child. My heart breaks for the Limberios family. But it has gotten to the point that if one thing fails, let's look at someone else to pay for it. Now we are actually getting so low that we are accusing the grand jury of being fixed. Absolutely ridiculous. I am not in any way in agreement with the acts of the Sandusky County Sheriff's office. They need to be held accountable for the wrong doings they are responsible for, but leave the innocent people alone to live their lives already.
Oh and for the record...registered voters are not public record and neither is whether or not we exercise that right to vote.

Lil DAB

★But how you are registered and if you voted is "public," GJ6SP!

http://ohiovoters.info/

★Sec'y of State of Ohio page

http://voterlookup.sos.state.oh....

Babo

Undoubtedly the Grand Jurors had a tough and important job to perform and all citizens should be grateful to them. I don't believe anybody means to attack the grand jurors personally but many of us are questioning whether the grand jury was manipulated by the AG's office and Sandusky officials as part of a "show".

Personally, I think the Grand Jurors were well meaning and conscientious. However, I know how easy it is for prosecutors and law enforcement to control a grand jury investigation so that they obtain a desired result.

In this case, I question if the AG's office ever presented the case to grand jurors as one of malfeasance in office by the Sheriff's office that reached a level of dereliction of duty or worse such as tampering with evidence and obstruction of justice in order to protect the sheriff's office.

In other words, who were the actual targets of the grand jury investigation? Were the Sheriff and some of his deputies under investigation for their gross incompetence in the original investigation? If the Grand jury was only about determining cause of death then that is not a proper role of a grand jury but the subject of a coroner's inquest.

Babo

Can anyone point me to any authority under US and Ohio law that allows a retired visiting state judge to oversee a special grand jury in a county of which he is not a resident or a voter?

Julie R.

Face it, Babo. OHIO is the most corrupt state in the entire country and that's a proven fact. There are no laws in Ohio. They make up their own laws and there's nothing that anybody can do about it. I got to see that for myself right here in corrupt Erie County. And the pathetic part of it is --- when these unprofessional, unethical, corrupt clowns are gone there will be another set of clowns to take over. OHIO is done for. OHIO was done for a long time ago.

DickTracey

"It's unclear why Crawford asked for a news conference"?

Because he is a ROCKSTAR!! Any chance he gets to be the center of attention, in front of reporters, cameras and show off that spray tan and flash those pearly white veneers he is going to!

Besides, he is coming up on retirement age. He needs to rub elbows with the AG's office now, so he gets in good. Then during retirement he can double dip, like the rest of them.

Babo

Actually he already "retired" and double dips as a retired visiting judge through a system that violates the US and Ohio Constitutions.

By holding this "show trial" media conference, Crawford was able to justify billing hours as a judge including travel time and travel expenses from Franklin County. Importantly US and Ohio law do not permit any person who has not taken an oath of office to uphold the US Constitution to act as a judge.

sash

How can it violate the Ohio Constitution when the Constitution explicitly states, Article 4, Section 6(c), that a retired judge assigned to duty is entitled to compensation in addition to any retirement benefits they are entitled to?

Crawford, along with all other retired judges, took the oath of office when they initially took office. The courts have found that the retired judges are resuming their judicial duties and there is no "expiration" on their oath.(Evans V. Supreme Court of Ohio) There is nothing in the Constitution or O.R.C. requiring additional or repeated oaths. The General Assembly could address this and require an additional oath, but they have apparently been satisfied with the current interpretation.

Babo

Well to perform an official "duty" a judge must have an oath of office for that office. The fact is an oath can not carry over from one term of office to another. For example, the president of the United States has to take a new oath upon re election to the presidency and every state judge or state officer takes an oath of office upon re election or appointment to his judgeship or office.

The case you cite was decided by the Ohio Court of Claims a court which is made up of surprise! elderly retired judges. Do you think those geezers (all of whom are over 70 years of age the mandated retirement age in Ohio for judges under the Ohio Constitution) are going to eliminate their double dipping gravy train and their complete lack of accountability to anybody?

Their decision does not and can not overrule the Constitution of the United States or the Constitution of the State of Ohio for that matter in Article XV section 7. Not to mention the retired judges all were under a mandatory duty to recuse themselves in that case due to their financial interests in perpetuating the retired visiting judge system.

The section you cite must be read in pari materia with the rest of the Ohio Constitution. These sections include the mandatory oath in Ohio Const. Article XV section 7, the age limitation in Ohio Const. Article IV and Article VI of the US Constitution. Also, any state law that violates the US Constitution is void under the Supremacy Clause.

The oath requirement under the US and Ohio Constitutions as well as the age limit has never been litigated on the merits in a federal court by way of a declaratory judgment action or at the Ohio Supreme Court through a Complaint in Prohibition. In other states where the issue has arisen courts have vacated judgments and orders due the lack of an oath of office as void for lack of jurisdiction.

In my opinion, retired visiting judges are akin to the great and powerful Oz. They keep blowing smoke and using mirrors to distract from the fact that underneath the robes they have no lawful power under the US Constitution.

sash

Morning Babo. This will be quick since I'm waiting for an appointment. Maybe more substance later. You, and others, keep saying visiting judges are unconstitutional for a variety of reasons. I can think if several laws I believe to be unconstitutional too, but our opinions are irrelevant. The courts get to decide what is constitutional and what isn't. If we disagree, we challenge, we appeal, we pass new laws. I haven't found any appeal in regards to Evan V Ohio Supreme Court, or any other challenges based on the oath. It seemed to me to simply be a " hail Mary" attempt to disqualify the judge, but if you could direct me to other cases I'd love to read their arguments. In the meantime, it stands.

Your other argument that the judge should recuse himself based on potential loss of income? Why would a decision for Evans affect the income of any assigned judge? If the Court found a new oath to be neccessary, then a judge would merely file a new oath in each jurisdiction they are assigned to. The Ohio Constitution does have a mandatory retirement age, but it also includes an exception to allow the use of retired judges. If we want to eliminate retired judges from the system, someone needs to come up with a new plan for judicial coverage and amend the state constitution. Time's up.

Babo

Where's the exception to the age requirement? And where is the exception to the new oath for appointment to a new office?

Note, retired judges are not judges in the county from which they retired but assume new offices within the Supreme Court of Ohio. I can't find any authority for those new judicial offices.

I guess I would not have as much of problem if retired judges were restricted to the office from which they retired and restricted with the consent of the parties to only civil cases. However, there simply isn't any authority for a retired judge to preside over criminal cases or grand juries.

Also, I find it to be extraordinarily bad public policy to allow retired visiting judges to preside in counties to which they have no connection and to which the people of that county have never assented to their presiding over their affairs. That violates separation of powers in my opinion because the Chief Justice is unilaterally appointing judges in courts and creating new judicial offices not authorized by the Constitution. It also violates due process and reeks of judge shopping or steering because the judge is hand picked instead of randomly selected.

I understand your point that Evan v Ohio Supreme Court and other oath cases because they were not appealed are good law. However, that doesn't prevent anybody from finally filing the US Constitutional challenge to the retired judge system on Separation of Powers, Due Process, Oath of Office and Public Policy Claims.

Lastly the concern with retired judges on the Court of Claims ruling on a challenge to the legitimacy of another retired judge to preside based on lack of oath of office under the Ohio revised code directly implicates their ability to keep accepting cases and receive payment. If they ruled against the retired judge in the Evans case they have to admit they themselves have not held office lawfully and disgorge all payments received to date.

It's important to note that no case raising the oath of office challenge brought it on the Ohio and US Constitutional requirements of the oath of office. The challenge was brought under the Ohio Revised Code and judges and justices were able to avoid the conflict between the Ohio Constitution in Art XV section 7 and Art IV section 6.

Obviously there are multi million even possibly billion dollars in reasons to avoid ruling on the oath issue in State Courts because if the retired judges were found to have acted without jurisdiction due to a lack of an oath of office every judgment and action is void; all payments made to them would have to be repaid to the State; and the retired judges would be personally vulnerable in any lawsuit brought by a litigant claiming violation of rights.

sash

The exception to the retirement age is found in Article 4, Section 6(c). The section deals with the mandatory retirement age and then continues to say that a voluntarily retired judge or any judge retired under this section(age mandatory) may be assigned by the Chief Justice to active duty as a judge.

There is no explicit exception to repeat the oath anymore than there is an explicit requirement to repeat it. The oath, when given, is made as a judge of the State of Ohio. Their oath is made to the law, not a city, county or geographical location.

Article 4, Section 5 gives the Supreme Court general superintendence over all courts in the state. In short, they are responsible for keeping the judicial system organized and moving properly. Besides the implicit authority granted in Section 5, other sections of Article 4 give explicit authority to the Chief Justice to assign temporary judges as needed. The Supreme Court submits the Rules of Superintendence for the Courts of Ohio, along with the Supreme Court rules each year to the General Assembly. These rules include the criteria for the use of assigned(retired) judges. Our Legislators can amend, reject or accept these on a yearly basis.

There wouldn't have been anywhere near the repercussions you've projected if the Court had found for Evan. The Legislature would have quickly passed new legislation stating explicitly that either any oath given doesn't have an end date or make it explicitly require. New oath and the judges are back at work after a small hiccup. Demereaux V State has stood as legal precedent for over 80 years so the possibility of those judge's decisions being overturned are somewhere between slim and none. Why would the judges have to return a single cent of pay? They would have "clean hands" in this situation. They accepted a job in good faith and performed the work for which they were hired. All fault would lie with the State. It would be no different than if a manager at a company hires you and you work and receive pay for three years. The CEO comes along one day and says the manager didn't have the authority to hire you and demands that you return your three years of pay. Not going to happen in any court in the country. The employee is not going to be punished because of the error of the employer. So when everything is said and done, a different decision would have been only a minor blip for the retired judges.

The system may not be ideal, but what would you change to make it better? Substitute judges are needed. Overloaded dockets, illness or injury and recusals or special circumstances will always require more judges than we have in office. Are tax payers willing to foot the bill to have at least one backup judge in every jurisdiction, and multiple extra judges in the larger jurisdictions? At full pay and benefits? Making coffee and answering phones when they're not handling a case? Eliminate the restrictions placed on eligibility to broaden the choices? Currently two of the requirements is that an assigned judge needs to have held a judicial position in Ohio and can not be practicing law. One is to insure the judge has been selected "by the people" at some point, is experienced and has taken the oath. The other requirement insures that the judge is in no way influenced by clients or potential gain. With those requirements, the choices are limited. Eliminate the requirements and you have a lot more choices, but at what cost? Maybe the Chief Justice can choose an attorney from Murray & Murray to be a judge? Or his neighbor's son who just passed the bar? The restrictions narrow the field, but would looser requirements really be an improvement?

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