Pat DeWine Would Be Part-Time Justice on Ohio Supreme Court

DeWine Would Be Unable to Weigh in on Potentially Hundreds of Cases Filed Before the Court

COLUMBUS — According to the Ohio Supreme Court’s former long-time Disciplinary Counsel, candidate Pat DeWine would be required to disqualify himself from any proceeding in which the Attorney General’s office — led by his father Mike DeWine — is a party and potentially from many others where the Attorney General’s office appears in court representing other parties.

This would mean, if elected, Pat could not deliberate on dozens of cases filed before the court each term, and could be struck by a party in potentially hundreds of cases.

Jonathan Coughlan served as the Ohio Supreme Court’s Disciplinary Counsel from 1997 until 2013, and he researched the Ohio Code of Judicial Conduct and the American Bar Association’s Annotated Model Code of Judicial Conduct, as well as similar scenarios from other states.

Coughlan found, “In other jurisdictions, a judge having a relative functioning as the supervisor of other lawyers who appear before a judicial officer has been determined to necessitate disqualification.

Looking at how the federal courts handle similar situations, Coughlan cites a federal advisory opinion that states, “If the relative serves as either the United States Attorney or Acting United States Attorney, the judge should recuse in all cases in which the office appears.”

Coughlan concludes, “[I]t is my expert opinion that under Jud. Cond. R. 2.11, the justice in the assumed facts would be required to recuse from all cases where a member of the Attorney General’s office was appearing as counsel or was filing an Amicus brief.”

“This new opinion, authored by the pre-eminent expert on judicial ethics and the Ohio Supreme Court, finds that Pat DeWine would have to recuse himself from every case in which the Ohio Attorney General is a party and could potentially be struck from many others where the Attorney General is involved in any way,” said Ohio Democratic Party Chairman David Pepper. “In total, this obvious conflict of interest could impact hundreds of cases per term, including the most important cases that come before the court, for example, constitutional challenges, school funding, death penalty appeals and the like. If Pat DeWine were to abide by the required ethical principles, he would essentially be a part-time justice on the Ohio Supreme Court and a no-show for many of the most important cases heard by Ohio’s highest court.”