Chief Justice To Appoint Commission To Consider Athens County Sheriff Suspension

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After a request today by the Ohio Attorney General, Supreme Court Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor will have 14 days to appoint a special three-judge commission to consider the suspension of Athens County Sheriff Patrick Kelly who’s been charged with felonies relating to official conduct in office.

Ohio Revised Code section 3.16 outlines the process and calls for the special commission to include retired judges or justices, one of whom must be of the same political party as the public official.

Fourteen days after it is established, the special commission must make a preliminary determination about whether the public official should be suspended from office. The public official may contest the preliminary determination within 14 days of being notified and appear at a commission meeting to present his case. That meeting must be held within 14 days of the notice by the public official to contest the preliminary findings.

At the conclusion of the meeting, the special commission would then issue its final determination and issue a written report.

Pursuant to R.C. 3.16(C)(2), all meetings of the special commission shall be closed to the public and the records shall not be made available to the public for inspection or copying until the special commission issues its written report or otherwise concludes its proceedings.

This provision of state law most recently was used in November 2013 when a special prosecutor for the Ohio State Auditor filed an action at the Ohio Supreme Court to begin suspension proceedings against Fairfield County Clerk of Courts Deborah K. Smalley who was indicted on felony charges of misspending public money for political purposes.

In that case, Chief Justice O’Connor appointed a panel to consider the suspension, but Smalley resigned on December 5 before the panel issued its findings.

Ohio Court News contributed to this report.

View a copy of the Attorney General’s motion.