By Nikki Blankenship
Scioto County Candor
The Disciplinary Counsel has taken a complaint before the Ohio Supreme Court alleging that former Judge William T. Marshall, who abruptly quit mid-term just weeks ago because of health reasons, is guilty of misconduct.
In the complaint, filed on April 27, states that Marshall has practiced law since 1983 and has been a judge since 1994 until retiring on March 16. As a result, he is subject to the Code of Judicial Conduct.
According to the complaint, on Sept. 1, 2016, Marshall’s daughter (who was a minor at the time) was pulled over for speeding and expired tags by Sgt. David Stuart of the Ohio HIghway Patrol. The complaint then outlines a conversation in which Marshall’s daughter demand that Stuart speak to her father, insisting he acknowledge that she is “Judge Marshall’s daughter.”
She then gets her father on the phone and she and Marshall persist in trying to speak with the officer who continues to write a citation for speeding and a warning for the expired tags.
Marshall’s daughter had a Jackson County address. On Sept. 7, 2016, Marshall wrote a letter to the Scioto County Juvenile Court, to ensure his daughter’s case be handled locally. The letter stated, “Good morning! My daughter, (name omitted), was recently cited for a traffic violation. I understand her license reflects her mother’s address, but I am the residential parent and her current correct residential address is 1520 Hawthorne Drive, Portsmouth, Ohio 45662. I’m providing this information to ensure this matter is not transferred to Jackson County. Thank you in advance!”
The case was set to be heard by Magistrate Rebecca Bennett with Scioto County Juvenile Court.
According to the complaint against former Judge Marshall, after his daughter’s first court hearing Marshall tried to approach a juvenile prosecutor about the case while he was in Marshall’s courtroom for other business.
“Shortly after the first appearance, Assistant Scioto County Prosecutor Jay Willis was in (Marshall’s) courtroom on an unrelated matter. (Marshall) stated to Willis, ‘You do all the juvenile and traffic cases, right? My daughter got a ticket,’ at which point, Willis replied, ‘I haven’t seen it and I don’t want to go there Judge,’” the complaint reads.
Marshall continued anyway, asking about how such cases are handled and complaining that he didn’t like the trooper who cited his daughter.
“He didn’t listen to me. There’s a code of conduct in this county–I’m a judge and he shouldn’t have written my daughter,” the complaint quotes Marshall as saying.
It then says that Willis was “uncomfortable” with the situation and left the room.
The complaint further alleges that Marshall made several attempts to contact Stuart. He continued to contact Willis about the case until the assistant prosecutor asked County Prosecutor Mark Kuhn to handle the case. The complaint states that Willis felt Marshall was “pressuring” him about the ticket. Kuhn agreed to handle the case.
On Oct. 6, 2016, Marshall asked that Bennett appoint attorney Gene Meadows as his daughter’s attorney, to which she agreed.
Marshall then pressured the court to allow him to be present during his daughter’s court appearances. This is typically not allowed. When asked if Marshall would be the exception, the complaint states that Bennett said the case would be treated no differently. However, as he persisted, she did allow him to be present.
The complaint reads:
“When the bailiff opened the door to the hallway, he announced, ‘Counsel only.’ At that point, Meadows and Kuhn entered the courtroom. (Marshall) then told the bailiff, ‘I’m her father and I’m an attorney, and I’m coming in.’ (Marshall) pushed the bailiff’s arm out of the way and walked into the courtroom. Magistrate Bennett saw the encounter, but signaled to her bailiff that it was okay.”
Throughout appearances in August and September 2017, Marshall was witnessed making threatening statements about the trooper who cited his daughter and saying he would hold it against the troopers in future cases.
On Sept. 14, 2017, Marshall told Kuhn he would like to meet with the trooper who cited his daughter, stating that if he will agree to meet, Marshall’s daughter will enter a guilty plea. Otherwise, they were going to trial.
“(Marshall) then stated he ‘wanted to take the trooper back to 1982.’ When Kuhn stated that he did not know what (Marshall) was referring to, (Marshall) stated, ‘Back when there was professional courtesy his daughter would not have received a ticket,’” the complaint reads.
It continues to say that Marshall told Kuhn that the troopers had cited another judge and one of Kuhn’s employees and added that he would treat the troopers different in his courtroom as a result.
The complaint then provides evidence of Marshall showing his prejudice against the troopers in other cases, cases in which plea agreements were made and Marshall forced both parties into suppression hearings. In such detailed exchanges, Marshall continued to make negative comments about the troopers while in front of other attorneys. He was argumentative with a trooper giving statements in another case, and he prolonged a case by refusing a plea agreement just to accept it under the same conditions later.
During his daughter’s court appearances, Marshall would also interrupt proceedings.
At the end of Marshall’s daughter’s case, Bennett was prepared to make an oral statement but was requested to issue a written statement by Kuhn and Meadows agreed. They also agreed to delay the decision because Kuhn had an upcoming felony case in Marshall’s courtroom and was concerned the decision would impact Marshall’s actions in the felony criminal case.
According to the complaint, Marshall even contact Bennett in the weeks as she prepared her decision, pressuring her until she called a meeting with Judge Lemons, Kuhn and Meadows and disclosed the conversation to ensure they were still comfortable with her handling the case.
Disciplinary Counsel is alleging that Marshall is guilty of several codes of conduct including:
Code of Judicial Conduct.R. 1.2 — A judge shall act at all times in a manner that promotes public confidence in the independence, integrity, and impartiality of the judiciary, and shall avoid impropriety and the appearance of impropriety
Code of Judicial Conduct.R. 1.3 — A judge shall not abuse the prestige of judicial office to advance the personal or economic interests of the judge or others.
Code of Judicial Conduct.R. 2.2 — A judge shall uphold and apply the law, and shall perform all duties of judicial office fairly and impartially.
Code of Judicial Conduct.R. 2.3 (A) — A judge shall perform the duties of judicial office without bias or prejudice.
Code of Judicial Conduct.R. 2.9 (A) — A judge shall not initiate, receive, permit or consider ex parte communications.
Rules of Professional Conduct.R. 8.4(d) — A lawyer shall not engage in conduct that is prejudicial to the administration of justice.
The Disciplinary Counsel is asking that Marshall be disciplined in accordance with Rule V of the Rules of the Government of the Bar of Ohio, which can be access at http://www.supremecourt.ohio.gov/LegalResources/Rules/govbar/govbar.pdf.
Marshall was previously reprimanded by the Ohio Supreme Court on April 1, 2015, for driving while intoxicated and having an accident.
See support documents below: