SIDNEY — Former Shelby County Sheriff Dean Kimpel, who has twice been denied requests to change his guilty plea in a 2012 civil rights case, has appealed his case to the Ohio Supreme Court.
The case is currently under review to determine if the court will hear it.
The case was filed Friday by attorney Jeremy Tomb, of Troy. Kimpel is requesting that the court reverse previous decisions reached in the Shelby County Common Pleas Court and the Third District Court of Appeals in Lima.
Kimpel is seeking the right to withdraw his guilty plea, claiming vital evidence was not disclosed by prosecutors at the time. The original case, now in dispute, eventually led to Kimpel’s being ousted as sheriff.
In the 36-page filing, Tomb indicated two items in previous court decisions that are prompting the request for a Supreme Court review. The focus is on the Garrity Rights law that protects public officials from incriminating themselves and the Brady ruling that deals with the prosecution’s withholding information from the defendant.
He wrote, “Statements given pursuant to Garrity warnings and deemed inadmissible by a trial court cannot form the basis for a criminal indictment or be used in a subsequent prosecution.”
Secondly, Tomb noted, “The prosecution’s failure to provide material evidence to the defendant violated defendant’s due process rights.”
In his explanation to judges, Tomb stated that if the previous two court decisions are not overturned, it will have a “chilling effect” on the willingness of law enforcement and other public employees to cooperate with internal investigations for fear of subsequent prosecution.
The actions have stemmed from Kimpel’s attempting to prove the state withheld vital evidence that would have prevented his decision to plead guilty. 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 was 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 filed 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.
This past June 12, the decision rendered by a three-judge panel on the Third District Court of Appeals upheld the local court’s decision.
Appeals court records refer to the action of Kimpel’s originally accepting a plea agreement to lessen the charges he was facing at the time.
The writer is a regular contributor to the Sidney Daily News.