On Tuesday, March 5, 2024, the Supreme Court of Ohio denied an affidavit seeking to disqualify a juvenile court judge from a delinquency case involving an alleged aggravated robbery.

Robin Mapp, the mother of the alleged delinquent child D.G., had filed the affidavit of disqualification against Judge Julie Bruns of the Montgomery County Court of Common Pleas, Juvenile Division. Mapp alleged that Judge Bruns had a personal interest in the case and should be disqualified for other reasons.

In a written decision, the Supreme Court first addressed the threshold issue of whether Mapp had standing to file the affidavit against Judge Bruns. While Mapp was not personally a party to the delinquency complaint against her son, the Court examined various Ohio statutes and court rules that give parents certain rights and impose duties on them in juvenile delinquency proceedings.

Parents must be notified of detention hearings, summoned to court proceedings, required to attend hearings, and can be held in contempt for failing to attend. Children and their parents are also entitled to legal representation. Based on the role parents play under Ohio law, the Supreme Court ruled that Mapp had standing as a “party to the proceeding” for the limited purpose of filing an affidavit of disqualification.

Moving to the merits of the affidavit, Mapp had alleged Judge Bruns had a personal interest in the case. She claimed the judge said she would not release D.G. from detention, regardless of evaluations or a plea deal. However, the Court found Mapp did not explain how this showed the judge had a personal stake in the matter.

Mapp also argued Judge Bruns should be disqualified for other reasons, such as depriving D.G. of his right to a speedy trial and effective counsel. But the Supreme Court said it could not resolve such legal issues subject to appellate review in an affidavit proceeding.

Mapp further alleged Judge Bruns’s impartiality could reasonably be questioned because Mapp had filed a habeas corpus petition against the judge. However, the Court stated that litigants cannot simply disqualify a judge by suing them, especially when the suit challenges the judge’s rulings.

Ultimately, the Supreme Court affirmed the presumption of impartiality given to judges under Ohio law. It ruled Mapp had failed to provide evidence beyond her own allegations to prove Judge Bruns was biased, or her impartiality could reasonably be doubted. With the affidavit denied, the Court ordered the case to continue before Judge Bruns in the Montgomery County Juvenile Court.

A copy of the original filing can be found here.