On Tuesday, June 25, 2024, the Disciplinary Counsel filed a formal complaint with the Board of Professional Conduct of the Supreme Court of Ohio against Judge John William Rudduck of the Clinton County Court of Common Pleas.

The case is entitled “In the Matter of Judge John William Rudduck,” with case number 2024-015.

The complaint alleges that during his son Brett Rudduck’s campaign for Clinton County Municipal Court judge in the May 2023 primary election, Judge Rudduck engaged in conduct that violated the Ohio Code of Judicial Conduct. Brett Rudduck was running against two other candidates, David Henry, and Judy Gano, in the Republican primary.

According to the complaint, from at least March 2023 through the May primary election, Judge Rudduck publicly endorsed his son Brett through multiple posts on the judge’s personal Facebook page. This included sharing photos and links related to Brett Rudduck’s campaign and signs endorsing his candidacy. Under the Code of Judicial Conduct, judges are prohibited from publicly endorsing or opposing candidates for other public offices.

The complaint also alleges that Judge Rudduck abused the prestige of his judicial office to promote his son’s campaign. In late April 2023, when Brett Rudduck’s Facebook page was temporarily restricted by the platform, Judge Rudduck posted about the incident on his own Facebook page. In the post, he criticized the restriction as occurring close to the election without proper cause and exercised his right to free speech to publicly defend his son and family.

The complaint presents additional allegations that during the campaign, posts made by Brett Rudduck to endorse his own candidacy appeared on Judge Rudduck’s Facebook page. This included photos of Brett Rudduck and his family wearing campaign t-shirts and interacting with campaign signs and materials. Judge Rudduck shared many of these posts to his public Facebook profile.

The filing with the Board of Professional Conduct seeks to have Judge Rudduck sanctioned for violating rules regarding impartiality, integrity, avoiding impropriety or its appearance, and prohibitions against using judicial office to promote others’ interests or endorsing other candidates. The Disciplinary Counsel is seeking an appropriate sanction if Judge Rudduck is found to have committed the violations.

A copy of the original filing can be found here.