SIDNEY – The hopes of former Shelby County Sheriff Dean Kimpel were dashed Monday when an appeals court upheld the local court’s decision in denying the reversal of a ruling in his civil rights case tied to a 2012 case that eventually led to his resignation.
Kimpel was seeking the right to withdraw his guilty plea claiming vital evidence was not disclosed by prosecutors at the time.
The decision, filed online, was rendered by a three-judge panel with the Third District Court of Appeals of Lima. The judicial panel include Judges John Williamowski and Vernon Preston, of the Third District, and Judge Michael Hall of the Second District, who served by assignment.
The judges ruled the recent procedures taken by officials in Shelby County Common Pleas Court last year were not in violation of Kimpel’s civil rights. Court records refer to the action of Kimpel originally accepting a plea agreement to lessen the charges he was facing at the time.
The action stemmed 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 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.
On May 12, 2017, in Kimpel’s civil rights case, a daylong hearing 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, 2017, retired Judge James Brogan ruled the state did not withhold vital information that Kimpel claimed would have prevented his plea and case outcome.
The 39-page appeal court document detailed Kimpel’s argument on three noted points regarding Brogan’s decision.
Kimpel’s attorney, Jeremy Tomb, was contending Brogan failed to rule favorably for Kimpel for the same reason in the original file case of withholding evidence; he questioned the admissibility of Kimpel’s statements to investigators from Licking County; and, claimed the charges were without merit.
The writer is a regular contributor to the Sidney Daily News.