COLUMBUS — A three-judge panel on Friday dismissed a complaint that Ohio Supreme Court Justice Pat DeWine was not recusing himself from cases involving his father, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine.
Although an Ohio Judicial Conduct rule states, “A judge shall not permit family… to influence the judge’s judicial conduct or judgment,” Friday’s opinion cited case law that states it is not alone the grounds for recusal.
Instead, “the totality of the circumstances must be considered when disqualification is at issue,” the opinion stated.
The Ohio Supreme Court released the decision after 5 p.m. Friday. Mike DeWine was elected the next governor three days earlier.
The complaint was filed Jan. 30 by Bradley Frick, a Columbus attorney and a special disciplinary counsel who was appointed after an anonymous panel of judges found “good cause” for an investigation, according to the Columbus Dispatch.
Throughout the younger DeWine’s career on the bench, starting with Hamilton County Common Pleas Court, then the First District Court of Appeals, he sought legal opinions on how to handle cases that came from his father’s office. He was generally told he didn’t have to recuse himself unless his father was personally involved in a case. He’s been challenged on this matter several times throughout his career.
At times Pat DeWine has heard cases involving the Ohio attorney general’s office, which as the state’s attorney represents Ohio agencies and officials.
The justice “has not explained how he would know if his father was ‘personally involved’ or what criteria he would use to deem it ‘appropriate’ to recuse,” the complaint said.
The complaint also said images of the justice and attorney general together, including the younger DeWine swearing in his father, have been posted on social media and the Ohio Attorney General’s website.