On Thursday, the Ohio Supreme Court followed the recommendation of the Ohio Board of Professional Conduct and suspended former Scioto Court of Common Pleas Judge William Marshall from the practice of law for six months.
The suspension was imposed in response to Marshall’s attempting to influence an Ohio State Highway patrolman and a juvenile court to drop traffic charges against his juvenile daughter, identified in court paperwork only as A.M.
The court found Marshall violated several specific rules governing the personal conduct of Ohio judges. After acknowledging his conduct in the incident with his then 17-year-old daughter was inappropriate, Marshall resigned from the bench in March 2018 after approximately 18 years of service.
According to the opinion issued by the state Supreme Court, the disciplinary board, or Board of Professional Conduct , found Marshall’s actions in trying to get his daughter out of the speeding ticket specifically violated, among others, rules requiring a judge to act at all times in a manner that promotes public confidence in the independence, integrity, and impartiality of the judiciary; a rule barring judges from abusing the prestige of judicial office; and, rules governing ex parte, that is, off the record conversations. The court noted there are exceptions to that final rule but argued they do not apply in this instance.
The Ohio Board of Professional Conduct is a 28-member quasi-judicial body appointed by the state Supreme Court consisting of 17 lawyers, seven active or retired judges, and four non-lawyers. This was not the first time Marshall has been in trouble with the board. On April 1, 2015, the Ohio Supreme Court reprimanded Marshall upon his conviction for operating a motor while intoxicated, an incident which resulted in a one car accident.
According to the certified complaint filed by the professional conduct board, on or about Sept. 1, 2016, Marshall’s daughter was stopped by the state patrol for allegedly speeding and driving with expired tags. The girl called her father on her cell phone. Again, according to the complaint, Marshall ended up speaking with the patrolman on the scene and attempted unsuccessfully to persuade him not ticket his daughter. The girl was cited for going 64 mph in a 50 mph zone on U.S. 52 in Scioto County.
On a later, unspecified date, Scioto County Assistant Prosecutor Jay Willis was in Marshall’s court room on an unrelated matter. The complaint against Marshall states the judge informed Willis he was upset with the trooper who had ticketed his daughter.
“I didn’t like the trooper,” Marshall told Willis according to the complaint. “He didn’t listen to me. There used to be a code in this county – I’m a judge and he shouldn’t have written my daughter.”
The complaint further alleges Marshall, on different occasions, made comments about his daughter’s case and the patrol officer’s behavior. Once more according to the complaint, Willis asked to be removed from the case as he felt Marshall was pressuring him inappropriately. After several continuances, the court set the matter for pretrial in a county juvenile court room on April 4, 2017.
As a general policy, the juvenile court does not allow anyone other than the lawyers involved into pretrial conferences. A bailiff reportedly tried to block Marshall from entering, but he allegedly physically shoved his way into the room.
“I’m her father and I am an attorney and I’m coming in,” Marshall reportedly announced.
During the pretrial, which was not on the record, Marshall allegedly told the court the trooper involved acted unprofessionally and showed him no professional courtesy. The matter was set for trial Sept. 18, 2017. After several continuances, in December 2017, the court declared Marshall’s daughter a juvenile traffic offender and imposed court costs. In Supreme Court documents, Marshall is quoted blasted the ruling, arguing it would add to his insurance costs because of points put on his daughter’s driver’s license. The Office of Disciplinary Counsel filed its complaint three months later.
In its written opinion, the Supreme Court concluded “based on the foregoing (namely the spelling out of Marshall’s alleged actions) we agree that Marshall’s conduct violated (several specific codes) and that an actual six-month suspension from the practice of law is the appropriate sanction for that misconduct… Accordingly, William Tierney Marshall is suspended from the practice of law in Ohio for six months. Costs are taxed to Marshall.”
An attempt to reach Marshall for comment was unsuccessful as of press time.
Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor and justices Sharon L. Kennedy, Judith L. French, Patrick F. Fischer, Michael P. Donnelly, and Melody J. Stewart joined the opinion against Marshall. Justice R. Patrick DeWine did not participate in the case.