MEDINA COUNTY, Ohio (WJW) – The FOX 8 I-Team uncovered a mystery surrounding a local judge who recently died.
Investigators are looking into how the signature of Medina County Domestic Relations Judge Mary Kovack ended up on court orders even after she’d been found unresponsive in a medical emergency. The records have the judge’s signature stamped electronically.
Last month, Judge Kovack was found unresponsive in her home. She went to the hospital and, weeks later, she died.
It could be explained as simple court paperwork delays or maybe something else.
Medina County Prosecutor Forrest Thompson wrote to the Ohio Attorney General’s Office asking to have the Bureau of Criminal Investigation look into it.
“We’re talking about the integrity of the court, but we’re also talking about people’s lives,” Thompson told the I-Team. “I want to satisfy the concerns of the public that the entries that were dated, that is, that were file-stamped are, in fact, legitimate orders of the court.”
In his request to BCI, Thompson wrote, “In order to maintain the integrity of the court, I am requesting that the BCI initiate an investigation into the protocol of the Domestic Relations Court and its staff in the use of this electronic signature process.”
Joe Van Brocklin Mireles is a father asking about the judge’s electronic signature on a ruling in his case. He lost a fight involving his 4-year-old daughter.
“It’s extremely difficult,” he said. “So, did Judge Kovack sign it or did somebody else in her office sign it for her?”
In light of all this, we also wondered about people coming to Medina County court now. What about new cases just getting filed, or disputes over child support and family issues just now moving through the system?
“We’re handling them on a day-to-day basis,” Judge Christopher Collier said.
He added the court has kept cases moving with magistrates and visiting judges since delays can be critical.
“Domestic Relations Court, probably more than any other court in the county, touches more families. Child support, child custody, divorce,” Collier said.
“It is important. It is my daughter’s safety and well-being we’re talking about, first and foremost,” Brocklin Mireles said.
The Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation is still looking into this.
For now, all of the rulings and orders under review stand. If investigators find any reason those cases should be reopened, the court will address that later.