There seems to be at least a bit of a war of words breaking out between Tim Young, director of the Office of the Ohio Public Defender, and Shane Tieman, Scioto County Prosecutor.
Although in some media the reported number of cases possibly affected is north of 2,000, Young said his office may or may not be bringing into question a select number of some 1,200 criminal cases involving prison sentences or probation as handed out by former Scioto County Court of Common Pleas Judge William Marshall, who resigned in March 2018 after approximately 18 years of service to the bench.
Earlier this year, the Ohio Supreme Court followed the recommendation of the Ohio Board of Professional Conduct and suspended Marshall from the practice of law for six months.
The case against Marshall stemmed from his allegedly inserting himself into a traffic infraction case against his daughter. But it was not the suspension that attracted Young’s attention. Instead, Young decided to step in after the Cincinnati Enquirer reported Marshall’s daughter and mother had filed for guardianship over the former judge, now 62.
According to The Enquirer, guardianship papers claim Marshall is no longer capable of handling his own affairs because of extremely advanced alcoholism. In comments to the Daily Times, Young noted Marshall first was hospitalized for alcoholism in 2013. In his mind, that potentially brings into question Marshall’s judgment regarding every case he decided since that time.
Young stated he couldn’t imagine anyone being comfortable having their trial presided over by an intoxicated judge.
“Even if you’re guilty, and I assume a lot of these people are, and I’m not saying they are not, what I’m saying is they had a right to justice,” Young said.
For his part, Tieman said if Young can point to specific cases with specific problems, he is more than willing to look at those cases. But he also argued Young is overreaching in trying to look at what could be a very large number of cases tried by Marshall. He said Young waited months before acting on news of the filing of the guardianship papers against Marshall. Tieman added Young never contacted his office before going to the media.
“It kind of just hits me the wrong way,” Tieman said.
“Do you honestly believe, and I would ask the prosecutor the same question, that justice was done if the judge in the case was intoxicated?” Young asked. He added he respects Tieman’s comments about finding specific problems with specific cases but then said the question becomes how exactly would that be accomplished.
“How do I show errors if everybody in the county knew about this problem, or heard rumors about this problem, and didn’t do anything?” Young said.
Young also pointed to a federal court case which he said set the precedent that a systemic problem evident in the justice system is enough to bring a case in to question. In other words, he said, you don’t need to show specific problems if there are systematic or systemic problems.
Rumors long have linked Marshall’s name to a supposed sex trafficking ring operating in Portsmouth. Young stated he did not take any such allegations into account in deciding to look into some of Marshall’s cases.
The Daily Times has checked numerous times with the southern Ohio office of the Federal Bureau of Investigations as well as well as other law enforcement agencies regarding any investigation into Marshall or others allegedly linked to supposed local sex trafficking. Each time Officials state, by policy, they can neither confirm nor deny any such investigations.
Young stated with the help of law students from Case Western Reserve University near Cleveland he is beginning to review at least some of the cases Marshall handled. Researchers have put an emphasis on persons who appeared before Marshall and still are imprisoned. Persons who appeared before Marshall who have questions about their case also are invited to contact Young’s office.
Parties can contact the state public defender’s office at (614) 466-5394.
Again, Young added his office’s interest is limited to cases involving jail time or probation. He said he assumes many persons who appeared before Marshall will be satisfied at this point to accept whatever fate was meted out to them and simply move on. Young insisted the number of cases to prove worthy of a new trial will be a very small fraction of those over which Marshall presided.
“We’re looking into whether there is a systemic remedy to all of this. I can’t tell you today whether there is or not,” Young said.
Reach Tom Corrigan at (740) 370- 0715. © 2019 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved.