Janice Morse reports
A state board on Thursday formally accused a Warren County candidate of making “deceptive and misleading” campaign statements in violation of Ohio’s conduct rules for judicial candidates.
Carolyn Duvelius, chief magistrate for the county’s juvenile and probate court, will face a hearing on the accusations – but that can’t be accomplished until sometime after next Tuesday’s primary election, a state official said Thursday.
Duvelius and Donald E. Oda II, Warren County Court judge, are on the ballot as Republicans seeking a seat on the county’s Common Pleas bench.
A hearing panel will be named by Tuesday and a hearing for Duvelius then must be scheduled within five days of that appointment, said Richard A. Dove, secretary for the Supreme Court’s disciplinary arm, the Board of Commissioners on Grievances and Discipline.
If the panel finds that Duvelius did commit violations as alleged, the next step in the process would be recommendations for discipline, Dove said. Any discipline would then have to be approved by the Ohio Supreme Court; possible penalties range from a reprimand to disbarment from the practice of law, he said.
The board’s complaint against Duvelius comes after Oda filed a grievance accusing Duvelius of various false statements. Duvelius filed a lengthy response denying the allegations and offering justifications for her statements. A panel reviewed both sets of documents and found “probable cause” to support the allegations against her, Dove said, leading to the board’s decision to issue a complaint against Duvelius.
Oda said Duvelius exaggerated her qualifications and cast aspersions on him by claiming that he made a career out of “representing criminals and rapists” although he was fulfilling his duties as a general-practice lawyer, documents say.
A website and a Facebook page show Duvelius “in a robe but does not readily identify the court on which she serves or that she is a magistrate,” rather than a judge, the board’s complaint against Duvelius said. Duvelius asserts that captions and other information do accurately describe her position as a magistrate.
Also at issue: a “robocall,” or automated telephone campaign call, describing Duvelius as “the only candidate with full-time judicial experience,” a statement the board alleges is false.
The board’s two-count complaint against Duvelius enumerates eight different statements alleged to be false or misleading, plus the allegedly misleading photographs.
The board says the alleged misrepresentations violate three specific rules in the Ohio Code of Judicial Conduct, which forbid a judicial candidate from:
» Putting out campaign information with reckless disregard as to its truth – or knowingly distributing false or misleading information about himself, herself or an opponent.
» Using a title of an office not currently held by the candidate “in a manner that implies that the judicial candidate does currently hold that office.”
» Misrepresenting the “identity, qualifications, present position or other fact” about himself, herself or an opponent.