Coshocton judicial race | todd drown attorney coshocton in English 2022
A criminal case against a local attorney and a candidate for Coshocton County Court of Common Pleas judge has become the number one topic of nearly everyone in the nearby community north of the Muskingum River.
Before many people left work for the Easter weekend, media around the region received tips that incumbent Judge Robert Batchelor's challenger, William Todd Drone, had been indicted by a local grand jury.
|Coshocton judicial race | todd drown attorney coshocton in English 2022|
What was not reported, unknown to Y-City News even at the time, is that another grand jury failed to indict Drown last November. Just two weeks before Election Day, many questioned the timing of special prosecutor Clifford Murphy, chief fellow prosecutor of the neighboring Licking County Prosecutor's Office, re-presenting the case to a new grand jury, this time with fewer, if any, witnesses. . .
During our reporting, after speaking to and interviewing dozens of individuals, what began to emerge was that Murphy, who we were told would be available to the media, had no intention of explaining his criminal charges against the judge candidate. . Early voting was already in session. This led some voters to cast their ballots for Drown over his opponent, Judge Batchelor, fearing that the now-convicted candidate would be guilty of the multiple crimes he was charged with that could land him behind bars for decades.
Although not specified in the indictment, the alleged incident occurred in southern Coshocton County in the village of Conesville, just miles from the Muskingum County border.
According to Mayor Marge Donley, in accordance with village ordinances, she signed a nuisance notice on a property in town, giving the homeowner time to fix the problem.
The notice was personally delivered by Drown, the village solicitor and sole paid employee for the small community.
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Donley explained that the notice informed the homeowners that they had to clean up trash around the property, remove a dilapidated boat next to the garage and tires visible from the street.
By all accounts, the boat was removed in time and so was most of the trash.
It appears the tires were not initially removed and at some point Drow told an adult woman living on the property that she was not complying.
According to the victim, she put the tires in the garage but took them back an hour later to be cleaned for an upcoming birthday party.
At that point, Drown, who was allegedly working on another village issue, went back, saw the tires and instructed two of his workers to take them away.
Allegedly, according to the victim, drowned and she physically fell back and forth with one of the tires. Drown denies any physical altercation took place.
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According to multiple interviews with officials, everything was handled as it would traditionally be.
A deputy was called to the scene, after the victim called the police, a detective eventually took the case and it was eventually presented to the county prosecutor.
In cases where the attorney regularly works with the local sheriff's office, a special investigator from the attorney general's office may be asked to conduct the investigation, however, an analysis by Y-City News shows that would not be warranted.
Unlike cases where local attorneys may have dozens of open criminal cases with defendants that were investigated by the local sheriff's office, Drown does not.
Between 2001 and 2022 in Coshocton County, Drown represented clients in only 17 felony criminal cases, an average of less than one case per year. In the last five years, Drown has handled only 3 criminal cases.
Sheriff James Crawford confirmed that his office rarely, if ever, interacts with Drown.
Once the detectives completed their investigation, prosecutor Jason Given would have seen the case.
In an interview with Y-City News, Given explained that as soon as he learned that a local attorney was involved in the case, out of an abundance of caution and to ensure there was no perceived conflict of interest, he shifted to a special prosecutor. Appointed.
The presiding judge of the Court of Common Pleas authorizes that request. Judge Batchelor, without knowledge of the case or any of its details, authorized that appointment.
It is extremely common for neighboring county prosecutors or their assistants to serve as special prosecutors for neighboring counties when requested.
According to Batchelor, Given came to him from Licking County with the plaintiff's name and affixed his signature to the request.
The Attorney General's Office also makes special prosecutors available if they are requested. In Muskingum County, for example, it is rarely, if ever, done, and instead, an assistant prosecutor from a neighboring county fills in when a potential conflict of interest arises.
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While Y-City News was not given specific dates by Given or Batchelor, it appears that Special Prosecutor Murphy was appointed before he and the larger community knew that Drown was seeking a judicial position within the county.
According to Drown, he downloaded a petition from the Secretary of State's website and began telling political allies that he would challenge Bachelor in the upcoming May 2022 Republican primary in early November.
Judging by the numerous accounts, it appears that Special Prosecutor Murphy took Drown's criminal case before the regular monthly meeting of the Coshocton County Grand Jury in mid-November 2021.
Numerous witnesses were called before the grand jury to testify. Ultimately, they chose not to charge Drown.
In Coshocton County, grand juries typically serve six-month terms, and those specially convened grand juries ended their public service at the end of December.
In almost all cases, once a criminal investigation is presented to a grand jury, if they fail to indict, the case is over, unless, for example, new witnesses or evidence becomes available.
Double jeopardy, which prohibits anyone from being prosecuted twice for substantially the same crime, does not apply to grand juries, because the defendant is not prosecuted but merely indicted, a process that leads to felony criminal charges. allows.
What's complicated about the Drown case is that four months later Special Prosecutor Murphy told a newly seated grand jury essentially the same case but this time without any witnesses, including the alleged victim.
However, this time, both Bacheler and Drown had successfully filed their petitions to run for judge in the previous months and were featured in news reports, on social media and on the Election Board's website.
He was also halfway through Ohio's early voting period. As an experienced and intelligent prosecutor, Murphy, who heads the Felony Division for Licking County, knew that even if that wasn't his intention, the appearance of indicting a judicial candidate two weeks before Election Day would look suspicious at best. This was not a case of someone who murdered their significant other and was convicted the following week, but a case that spanned nearly a year.
Relatedly, Special Prosecutor Murphy has ignored nearly a dozen attempts by Y-City News to comment or provide an explanation. Also no one in his office will talk to us in detail.
To guard against the appearance that federal prosecutors are meddling in the political process, there are numerous precedents, memos, and opinions, which concern U.S. officials of both political parties. issued by the Attorney General, prohibits the announcement of criminal investigations or the seeking of charges in the weeks and months before an election against a political candidate. No such statute, memo, ruling, case law, or opinion exists at the state level in Ohio, although many other states, both Republican and Democrat-led, do.
Y-City News will continue to investigate Prosecutor Murphy and his actions as they relate to his official capacities, both as special prosecutor and as Licking County's Chief Fellows Prosecutor.
Ohio Supreme Court Chief Justice Maureen O'Connor appointed retired Franklin County Court of Common Pleas Judge Daniel T. Hogan has been appointed. Drown is scheduled to appear before Hogan at 9 a.m. Monday, April 25, at the Coshocton County Courthouse. Hogan has previously presided over criminal cases in Muskingum County, including during the appointment of Chief Justice O'Connor.
As previously reported by Y-City News, Drown is charged with four counts, which could potentially land him in prison for several decades.