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Summit County judge reverses recusal stemming from bailiff's conflict
Judge Tammy O'Brien reverses a decision not to hear cases involving Assistant Prosecutor Jay Cole -- who previously worked on a case involving her bailiff's father
by WKSU's KABIR BHATIA


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Kabir Bhatia
 
Judge Tammy O'Brien has been recusing herself from a number of cases due to her bailiff
Courtesy of Summit County Court of Common Pleas
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A Summit County Judge who previously recused herself from dozens of criminal cases has reversed her decision involving the prosecutor in question. WKSU's Kabir Bhatia reports.
Summit County judge reverses recusal stemming from bailiff's conflict

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Judge Tammy O'Brien announced last month that she would not hear cases involving Assistant Prosecutor Jay Cole. He says the issue is work he did on a case involving Judge O'Brien's bailiff’s father. The recusal reportedly stemmed from Tiffany Morrison's objection to Cole's presence in the courtroom. Cole says the bailiff also threatened to quit over the matter.

Attorney and Kent State Political Science Professor Chris Banks says the moves are highly unusual, and led to 63 cases being moved to other courts.

“That's disrupted a whole bunch of other people who have real stakes as criminal defendants and defenders in that court. They might not get their motion heard in a timely manner. Maybe it gets delayed to another time when you can find somebody who would step in as a judge to hear their case.”

Banks says the move is not really a basis for recusal.

“What O’Brien said – as far as I understand it – she said she consulted with the Ohio Supreme Court and she was told that it would be better to recuse. At least that was the implication that O’Brien says. Just basically remove yourself from the situation not to create a bias.”

Both O’Brien and Assistant Prosecutor Cole announced this week that they do not foresee a problem in working together. The Akron Beacon Journal reports that the bailiff continues to work in her position after previously threatening to quit over Cole’s presence in the courtroom.Editorials in the Akron Beacon Journal have been critical of Judge O'Brien's decision; she maintains it was made to avoid any questions about impartiality (Brian Shellito/Akron Beacon Journal)
Editorials in the Akron Beacon Journal have been critical of Judge O'Brien's decision; she maintains it was made to avoid any questions about impartiality
(Brian Shellito/Akron Beacon Journal)
(Click image for larger view.)

Editorials in the Akron Beacon Journal have been critical of Judge O'Brien's decision; she maintains it was made to avoid any questions about impartiality
 
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