|Judge Tim Horton|
The testimony, at a disciplinary hearing for Horton at the Ohio Judicial Center, was challenged during cross-examination by Casey Russo, an assistant disciplinary counsel.
She produced a text message that then-bailiff, Elise Wyant, sent to the administrator, Atiba Jones.
Wyant wrote in the text that she had to “ditch” the judge during a night of drinking because he was making her “uncomfortable with comments and touching.”
Jones testified that, after speaking with Wyant, he attributed the incident to the close friendship she shared with the judge, with whom she often went to bars for happy hour.
“I followed up and I said, ‘What specifically is happening?’ and she said, ‘Oh, it’s just him being him ... You know how he is. He’s just annoying’ ... I didn’t go farther than that because I had witnessed him being annoying and obnoxious” when he was drinking, Jones said.
Wyant’s complaint alleged that Jones, with whom she had a brief romantic relationship, failed to act on her complaints about the judge.
Jones, who resigned two days after Wyant submitted her resignation and complaint, was among the witnesses called by Horton’s lawyers as part of their defense of the judge. The hearing before a three-member panel of the Ohio Supreme Court’s Board of Professional Conduct began with three days of testimony in July and is expected to conclude with Horton taking the stand Thursday.
Horton, 48, was a Franklin County Common Pleas judge from 2006 until 2014, when he won election to the county’s Court of Appeals, a judgeship he still holds.
Wyant’s complaint — in which she also accused Horton of requiring her to do campaign work on county time and on county equipment — triggered a series of investigations. In January, the Supreme Court disciplinary counsel filed a complaint containing three charges of professional misconduct against Horton.
Pat Sheeran, the former administrative judge for Common Pleas Court, testified that he passed along information to the disciplinary counsel after leading an internal investigation of Wyant’s complaint.
“If I didn’t think there was a strong potential for a violation,” Sheeran said, “I wouldn’t have made the referral.”
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Text message contradicts ex-court administrator’s testimony in Judge Tim Horton’s defense