LIMA – There will be no verbal arguments in the Third District Court of Appeals case involving former Shelby County Sheriff Dean Kimpel, according to a court official here. Also, one judge has stepped down from hearing the case.
The case will now be presented to three-judge panel for a ruling on March 27. A decision is expected in 2 to 6 weeks later, according to Appeals Court Administrator Gregory Miller.
Attorneys on both sides had until March 16 to request time before the judges. The move would have allowed counsel to have 15 minutes with judges in a public session on March 27 to strengthen their case. No one requested such an option, according to Miller, as the decision will now be rendered privately by the judges.
Miller reported that Judge Stephen Shaw recused himself from the case indicating a possible conflict of interest. The ruling will be issued by Third District Judges John Williamowski and Vernon Preston and Second District Judge Michael Hall, who will be sitting by assignment.
Kimpel hopes they reverse a lower court’s decision where was denied a request to withdraw his guilty plea in illegal computer use case from 2012. Fallout from that case eventually lead to his resignation as sheriff.
On Aug. 15, a 39-page document was filed in court detailing Kimpel’s argument on three noted points regarding a decision handed down in July.
The action stems from Kimpel attempting to prove the state withheld vital evidence that would have prevented his decision to plead guilty. In that case, he was accused of using the Ohio Law Enforcement Gateway (OHLEG) computer to illegally look up individuals for personal purposes.
On April 13, 2012, Kimpel pleaded guilty to one count of unauthorized use of a computer through his then-attorney Michael Rumer of Lima. The charge of unauthorized use of computer, cable, or telecommunications property, a felony of the fifth-degree.
Later that year he resigned as sheriff and was fined and sentenced to two years of community control for the offense. A charge of sexual battery against him in Auglaize County was dismissed, as part of a plea agreement.
Kimpel denied in civil rights case
This past May 12, in a civil rights case, a daylong hearing in Sidney focused on a vital piece of evidence used in a sexual battery investigation against him during the same time as the computer offense. Kimpel claimed the evidence was misused to coerce a guilty plea from him for the computer use offense.
That day, Kimpel claimed he was denied due process when the evidence was withheld from him. He contended his sixth amendment rights were violated when investigators and prosecutors misconduct prevented him from bringing a civil lawsuit sooner.
Kimpel also claimed he was not given the same latitude as others. He claims to be the only person to be prosecuted in Ohio for the computer use violation. The Violation of Equal Protection offense points out there was evidence that other people had used the computer system for similar purposes. He contends there was “prosecutorial discretion” and an “unequal application of the law” in being singled out for the computer offense.
On July 27, retired Judge James Brogan ruled the state did not withhold vital information that Kimpel claimed would have prevented his plea and case outcome.
In the court documents, Kimpel’s attorney Jeremy Tomb contends Brogan failed to rule favorably for Kimpel for the same reason in the original case of withholding evidence; questions the admissibility of Kimpel’s statements to investigators from Licking County; and, the charges were without merit.
In a related matter, a separate lawsuit involving alleged civil rights violations against Shelby County Commissioners and 10 unnamed John and Jane Does has been dismissed. The suit, dismissed by Kimpel’s request, had called for an award of more than $25,000 plus legal fees.
The writer is a regular contributor to the Sidney Daily News.