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An Ohio Supreme Court judicial-conduct panel has fined Mark Davis $5,000 and publicly reprimanded him for falsely claiming in a recent judicial election campaign that he has six college degrees when he actually has two.
The Commission of the Judges also accepted a three-judge hearing panel's recommendation that Mr. Davis pay $9,635.50 in attorney's fees and legal expenses to the Lucas County Democratic Party, which on Oct. 17 had filed the campaign grievance against him with the Board of Commissioners on Grievances and Discipline of the Supreme Court.
The day after a Nov. 1 hearing, the hearing panel declared that Mr. Davis' claims to six college degrees in campaign advertising and social media violated three sections of the Ohio Judicial Conduct Rules concerning the dissemination of false or deceptive information about a judicial candidate's qualifications and schooling.
Although the panel on Nov. 4 issued an interim cease-and-desist order, Mr. Davis retained the disputed information on his Facebook page and insisted, during subsequent proceedings, that his description of his major and minor areas of study, plus a Certificate in International Trade and Development, as distinct college degrees was accurate.
The Commission of the Judges, made up of Judges David A. Ellwood, Barbara P. Gorman, Joseph M. Houser, Lisa L. Sadler, and Thomas A. Swift, agreed in its ruling Friday that Mr. Davis should have counted only his bachelor's degree from Miami University and law degree from Ohio State University as distinct degrees.
"The various arguments the respondent has put forth are not persuasive and merely underscore his unwillingness to admit his attempt to deceive the public through his campaign materials," the commission wrote in its decision. "Indeed, the closest the respondent comes to an admission is in his reply brief, where he indicates the voters were not harmed, but only the respondent was harmed because he lost the election due to his own stupidity. The respondent has repeatedly failed in these proceedings to recognize that his actions erode the public's respect for the judiciary."
Mr. Davis, a Republican, was defeated in the Nov. 8 election for Toledo Municipal Court judge by Michelle Wagner, a Democrat.