The Ohio Supreme Court could hand out discipline for Geauga County Judge Timothy Grendell.
We went one-on-one with him and he predicts he’ll beat the charges.
Grendell has been a judge for a long time in the Geauga County Probate and Juvenile Court.
The complaint from the Board of Professional Conduct accuses him of going out of bounds handling child custody cases. Plus, breaking judicial rules while speaking in public and testifying before lawmakers.
Grendell responded to the I-Team, saying, “I want the public to know the true facts. I did nothing wrong. I followed the law to a ‘T.’ I exercised my constitutional rights and spoke fairly and impartially.”
We reminded him that the complaint characterizes him, at times, as a bully, or, someone who does what he wants.
“First of all, I’m not a bully,” Grendell reacted. “You sometimes have to take a tough position. You have to protect the children by trying to rein in the parents. That’s not being a bully. That’s called being a judge.”
The mother from one case in the complaint also spoke out.
Stacy Hartman says Judge Grendell had her two sons locked up for a weekend when they wouldn’t visit their father.
“I just want to make sure that this doesn’t happen to any other family in Geauga County.” Hartman told the I-Team. “What my boys had to go through and what my family had to go through, I wouldn’t wish on anyone. He needs to be held accountable.”
Grendell also talked about that specific case. He said the kids held in detention, “were detained because they repeatedly disobeyed their mother. Under Ohio Law, when juveniles don’t obey their parents, it’s called unruly.”
This complaint was just filed, so the judge still gets to formally respond to the court. Something like this could take a year and a half or more to play out before any ruling on punishment.
For now, the judge can still hear cases.
Meanwhile, we turned to Case Western Reserve University law professor Michael Benza to discuss the process and what could happen.
He told us, if the Supreme Court finds serious wrongdoing, the judge could be forced off the bench.
“They could revoke his license and permanently disbar him,” Michael Benza said.
He also told us the factors considered by those carrying out the investigation, saying, “Then, you base your punishment based on the severity of the misconduct, the harm to the public, the reputational harm to judges.”
Still, Judge Grendell is digging in to fight.
“I am very confident that justices on the Ohio Supreme Court will understand that I complied with the law, that I protected my court and that I have certain Constitutional rights,” he said.
We’ll update this story as the disciplinary process moves ahead.