Judges Must Obey Appeals Courts

The law is the law, except, apparently, in one Ohio judge’s courtroom. State court officials need to look into his attitude and determine whether it is appropriate to keep him on the bench.

In 1999, police arrested Frank Davis at his home in Springfield, Ohio. Three pounds of cocaine were found in the house, authorities said. Davis was sentenced to prison for 11 years.

Davis maintained the drugs were not his, and appealed his conviction. An appeals court overturned it in 2006.

But Clark County Common Pleas Judge Douglas Rastatter refused to release Davis from prison. He disagreed with the appeals court’s ruling that the conviction was improper because the search warrant for Davis’ home was defective. Finally, after spending 192 days in prison after he should have been released, the appeals court stepped in and had Davis freed.

Now, state officials have agreed to pay Davis $110,000 for the wrongful imprisonment after Rastatter refused to release him.

Was Davis guilty? That does not matter. What does matter is that an appeals court said his conviction was improper — but a lower court judge, Rastatter, refused to comply with its decision.

Rastatter should be disciplined — and removing him should be considered.

The appeals court system is one of the foundations of our system of justice. A lower court judge who sets himself above the appeals system is, plainly and simply, not acceptable.