Hayes removes himself as judge in Clarett case

Published 12:00 am Friday, November 7, 2003

COLUMBUS - The son of former Ohio State football coach Woody Hayes removed himself Thursday as the judge in the misdemeanor case charging suspended Buckeyes tailback Maurice Clarett with filing a false police report.

It was not immediately clear why Franklin County Municipal Judge Steven B. Hayes took himself off the case. He could not be reached for comment late Thursday.

''Originally Hayes was adamant that he wouldn't step down,'' said Jeff Roose, a supervisor in the court clerk's office criminal division. ''I don't know what made him change his mind today.''

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The case was reassigned to Judge Mark S. Froehlich, the clerk's office said.

Clarett has pleaded innocent to a misdemeanor falsification charge, which has a maximum penalty of six months in jail and a $1,000 fine.

He is charged with filing an exaggerated theft report with campus police in April after a dealership's car he was borrowing was broken into. The police report said cash and stereo equipment worth thousands of dollars was taken.

Clarett's lawyers filed a request for Hayes' removal on Sept. 24. Cases are assigned to judges at random.

Franklin County Common Pleas Judge David W. Fais denied the affidavit of disqualification on Oct. 2, saying the motion by Clarett's attorneys was ''without merit.''

Hayes said at the time that he could not think of a reason why he couldn't be an impartial judge in the case.

A message seeking comment was left Thursday night for Clarett lawyer Percy Squire.

While Woody Hayes was Ohio State's coach from 1951 to 1978, the Buckeyes won two Associated Press national titles, 13 Big Ten crowns and 205 games.

Clarett is suspended for his sophomore season with the defending national champion Buckeyes for NCAA violations of accepting money from a family friend and lying about it to investigators. He is suing the NFL, asking a federal judge in New York to throw out a rule that prevents him from entering the draft until he has been out of high school for three years.