On Tuesday, March 21, 2023, the Supreme Court of Ohio assigned Honorable Terri Jamison, a judge of the 10th District Court of Appeals, to preside and hear the case of Daniel Gaul, a judge of the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas General Division in Ohio.

The case is entitled “Disciplinary Counsel v. Honorable Daniel Gaul” with case no. 2022-1515.

The charges cited Code of Judicial Conduct 1.2, 2.2, 2.3(b), 2.11, 2.6(b), 2.8(b), and 8.4(d) which states:

A judge shall act at all times in a manner that promotes public confidence in the independence, integrity, and impartiality of the judiciary, and shall avoid impropriety and the appearance of impropriety.

A judge shall uphold and apply the law and shall perform all duties of judicial office fairly and impartially.

A Judge shall not, in the performance of judicial duties, by words or conduct manifest bias or prejudice:

A judge shall disqualify himself in any proceeding in which the judge’s impartiality might reasonably be questioned.

A judge may encourage parties to a proceeding and their lawyers to settle matters in dispute but shall not act in a manner that coerces any party into a settlement.

A judge shall be patient, dignified, and courteous to litigants, jurors, witnesses, lawyers, court staff, officials, and others with whom the judge deals in an official capacity.

Conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice.

In the findings of facts, conclusions of law, and recommendation of the Board of Professional Conduct dated December 9, 2022, it was stated that the respondent was involved in eight cases over which he presided as a judge of the Common Pleas Court of Cuyahoga County during a period of five years, including seven criminal cases and a civil stalking protection order case. The respondent was charged with a total of 27 violations of the Code of Judicial Conduct and four violations of professional conduct.

According to the complaints, the judge acted with dishonest or selfish motives and refused to acknowledge the wrongful nature of his misconduct.

The filing states:

“Respondent argues that there was no dishonest or selfish motive in the conduct and therefore this should be a mitigating factor. Relator did not argue that this was an aggravating factor. However, the panel finds that in Disciplinary Counsel v. Bachman, 163 Ohio St.3d 195, 2020 Ohio-6732, the Board found there was no dishonest or selfish motive in a case that involved a single incident of misconduct in which Bachman abused his power of contempt and unlawfully incarcerated an individual. The Supreme Court disagreed and found the aggravating factor of a dishonest or selfish motive.”

The filing continues:

“Respondent steadfastly denied committing any violations in his answer, his opening statement, and his testimony. He did not stipulate any violations prior to the hearing Only after the hearing did he stipulate for the first time in his closing brief, ten of the violations. In his testimony, he referred to some of his misconduct as being an error of law or “simple legal error” when intact his actions were clearly improper under the law. His refusal to follow the mandate of the appellate court in Jackson as well as his comments during the hearing after remand and his testimony during the hearing shows that he refuses to acknowledge the wrongfulness of his conduct. The same conclusion applies to his misconduct in the W.S., Viola, and Smiley matters in which he continues to deny any misconduct.”

The respondent, on January 23, 2023, filed his objections to the said findings of facts and recommendation of the board of professional conduct. In the said response, the respondent stated that he was not accused of misconduct that involved dishonesty, nor does the evidence indicate that he engaged in the same. Moreover, the respondent contended that the board – in relation to the accusations of the latter that he refused to admit his wrongful conduct – disregarded that he made numerous acknowledgments of his conduct.

The filing further states:

“The Board disregarded Judge Gaul’s numerous acknowledgments of wrongful conduct at the investigation stage, during the disciplinary hearing, and in his PostHearing Brief, and instead penalized Judge Gaul for not stipulating to all Rule violations pled against him. In so doing, the Board improperly interpreted and applied Gov. Bar R. V(13)(B)(7) as a trial tax that requires judicial officers to admit all Rule violations charged or face a harsher sanction. Because a judge may in good faith acknowledge error or fault with his or her conduct while still disputing whether that conduct amounts to a specific Rule violation, and because the record demonstrates Judge Gaul repeatedly acknowledged the inappropriate nature of his actions, Gov. Bar R. V(13)(B)(7) should be held inapplicable.”

On February 21, 2023, the relator answered the respondent’s objections. According to the relator, the board’s determination that the respondent acted with a dishonest or selfish motive is consistent with the evidence taken during the hearing and the court’s precedent in Bachman. The relator stressed that a judge acts selfishly if they use their judicial authority for personal or emotional vindication.

On the second accusation, the relator argued that the respondent’s admission of some misconduct is not the same as “acknowledging the wrongful nature” of his conduct because it does not show any appreciation for the harm he caused.

The filing additionally notes:

“Respondent has argued that because he conceded there was sufficient evidence for some of the violations in his post-hearing brief, the panel erred in finding that he failed to acknowledge the wrongful nature of his conduct. Respondent’s argument is based on the faulty assumption that “admittıng to a violation” is the same as”acknowledging the wrongful nature of the Conduct.”

In relation to this matter, on March 21, 2023, the Supreme Court of Ohio assigned Judge Terri Jamison as a replacement for Justice Melody J. Stewart to handle the case of Hon. Gaul.

The Certificate of Assignment states:

“The Honorable Terri Jamison, a judge of the Tenth District Court of Appeals, is assigned effective March 17, 2023, to preside in the Supreme Court of Ohio, to hear case 2022-1515, Disciplinary Counsel v. Honorable Daniel Gaul and to conclude any proceedings in which she participated. Judge Terri Jamison will be sitting in place of Justice Melody J. Stewart.”

Judge Gaul sits as a judge of the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas General Division in Ohio located at 1200 Ontario St, Cleveland, Ohio, and can be reached at (216) 443-8560. His info can be found on ballotpedia.org.

A copy of the original filing can be found here.