Special Commission Suspends Athens County Sheriff
The special commission appointed to consider the suspension of Athens County Sheriff Patrick Kelly today issued its final report, suspending Kelly from office.
Kelly is facing multiple criminal charges in an indictment issued January 31. He has pleaded not guilty. Under Ohio Revised Code section 3.16, the suspension remains in effect until the underlying criminal matter is resolved.
On February 4, the Ohio Attorney General filed an action at the Ohio Supreme Court to commence the suspension proceedings. O.R.C. 3.16 spells out the process for such actions and establishes that the Chief Justice shall appoint a special commission to consider the matter. On February 19, Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor appointed three retired judges to serve on the special commission.
The special commission met on March 3, 2014, and issued a preliminarily determination that Kelly should be suspended from office. The special commission found in the preliminary determination that: “Patrick Kelly’s continued administration of, or conduct in the performance of the duties of, the Office of Sheriff of Athens County, Ohio, pending disposition of the criminal charges against him, would adversely affect the functioning of that office, and would adversely affect the rights and interests of the public, because he is legally responsible for administering the statutory funds, and performing the statutory duties, he is charged with criminally misusing.”
The preliminary determination was not made public at the time because the statute states “all meetings of the special commission shall be closed to the public” and “the records of the special commission shall not be made available to the public for inspection or copying until the special commission issues its written report.”
On March 12 Sheriff Kelly filed with the special commission a notice contesting the preliminary determination of suspension and requesting a hearing before the commission. This proceeding was scheduled for March 26, 2014.
On March 25, 2014, counsel for Sheriff Kelly filed a “Consent to Suspension pursuant to R.C.3.16” with the special commission.
Today’s final report concluded: “The special commission determines that the ‘Consent to Suspension’ constitutes a withdrawal of Sheriff Kelly’s notice previously filed March 12, 2014, contesting the preliminary determination of suspension. Therefore in accordance with R.C.3.16(C)(2), the preliminary determination of the special commission to suspend Patrick Kelly from the office of Sheriff of Athens County, Ohio, becomes the final determination of the special commission.”
The final order of the commission states:
“Patrick Kelly is suspended from the office of Sheriff of Athens County, Ohio. This suspension shall continue in accordance with R.C. 3.16(C)(4).”
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