JUDGE STEPS ASIDE
JUDGE STEPS ASIDE
TAKES HIMSELF OFF CARROLL CASES
July 31, 1993
Dayton Daily News
Citing "innuendos" about his objectivity in the case, Greene County Juvenile Judge Robert A. Hagler on Friday removed himself from further proceedings involving Cedarville's Carroll family.
The decision comes after a three-day inquest into the suspicious deaths of four of 10 adopted Carroll children, most of whom have disabilities. Hagler asked the Ohio Supreme Court to appoint a visiting judge to replace him in the custody cases involving the remaining Carroll children and in the criminal cases involving their parents, Kathleen and Timothy Carroll.
"Innuendos have surfaced indicating that I have pre-judged these cases or have undue sympathy for the Carrolls," he wrote to the court. "These innuendos are absolutely unfounded and false, but the Code of Judicial Conduct . . . mandates that a judge should avoid even the appearance of partiality."
At the heart of the judge's difficulty is the Greene County Children Services Board's repeated attempts to gain custody of the children. Hagler has refused to remove the children from the home except for a short period following the third Carroll child death in December.
"I don't feel confident that we can protect these children," said Kelly Baumer, a Greene County Children Services Board caseworker, during the inquest.
Pending before the judge is a request by the Children Services Board to gain emergency custody of James, 17; Isaiah, 10; Hosea, 9; and Samuel, 5.
Hagler's decision to remove himself from the case came after he conferred with Prosecutor William F. Schenck and defense attorneys Dennis Gump and John Rion. All three lawyers tried to stop the judge from stepping down.
"We spent almost an hour trying to persuade the judge to stay on the case, and we felt that he was uniquely situated to be on it," Rion said. "He has a lot of knowledge about the condition of the children and their needs and the skills."
Rion said he intends to ask the judge to reconsider his decision.
Gump, who represents Mr. Carroll, said he is upset about the judge's decision to recuse himself because, "I have a lot of respect for him . . . he has a lot of hours invested in the case."
Schenck said, "I have no problem with Judge Hagler in any way, method or form." He said he hopes the Supreme Court is able to appoint another judge quickly because he intends to file motions as a result of information that surfaced during the inquest.
A nationally recognized burns expert testified that 6-year-old Hannah Carroll could not have dumped bleach on herself, indicating that someone else had to be involved in the injuries that resulted in her death last Sept. 21.
That information, provided by Dr. Glenn Donald Warden of Shriners Burns Institute in Cincinnati, was made public for the first time Thursday, but Hagler said it was provided to him months ago.
Even with that information, Hagler denied requests to remove the remaining children from the home.
Hagler said that decision was based on additional information that has not been made public. He would not elaborate but said, "I have positive feelings about the family."
When two 3-year-olds, Noah and Mollie, died in November and December, Hagler granted emergency custody to Greene County Children Services, but returned the children to the family within several days.
Then 12-year-old Josiah died June 14, escalating other officials' concerns about safety of the Carroll children.