CAPS seeks to remove judge from hearing Rock Hill case

Published 12:00 am Friday, July 14, 2006

A citizens group that filed a successful lawsuit to remove three Rock Hill school board members last year has asked the Ohio Fourth District Court of Appeals to rein in visiting judge Fred Crow, who presided over that case.

“It seems they want to stop him from exceeding what they perceive to be his jurisdictional limits,” said Aaron McHenry, administrator for the court of appeals.

In documents filed Friday in the Lawrence County Clerk of Courts Office, Citizens Against Poor Spending (CAPS) filed a writ of prohibition seeking to prevent Crow “from exercising jurisdiction with which the county common pleas court has not been invested by law.”

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McHenry said he did not know when the court of appeals may consider this latest move.

“It was just filed recently so I would hesitate to even begin to guess when this might be resolved,” he said.

This comes on the heels of Crow’s decision late last month to allow the three board members, Lavetta Sites, Wanda Jenkins and Paul R. Johnson to keep their seats pending a resolution of the lawsuit case.

In October 2005, Sites, Jenkins and Johnson were removed from the board when a common pleas jury found they had committed “misfeasance, malfeasance and nonfeasance of office.”

Although Jenkins reclaimed her seat in an election less than a month later, all three filed an appeal with the court of appeals and asked Crow to grant a stay of execution allowing them to do so.

Crow granted the stay but CAPS asked the court of appeals to decide if Crow had the authority to grant such a stay. The appeals court ruled Crow did in fact have the right to do so.

Last month, the court of appeals dismissed Sites’ Jenkins’ and Johnson’s appeal, saying it was not a final appealable order because it did not address who would pay the legal fees incurred in filing the lawsuit.

CAPS had asked that the legal fees be paid by Lawrence County taxpayers. In a one-sentence order handed down June 30, Crow then reiterated his earlier stay keeping Sites, Jenkins and Johnson on the school board.

Last week, Austin Wildman and Eric Schooley, attorneys for CAPS, dropped their request to have the legal fees paid by taxpayers.

Rodeheffer is in a jury trial in Scioto County this week and was not available for comment. Likewise, Schooley and Wildman were also not available for comment.