On Friday, February 16, 2024, the Supreme Court of Ohio indefinitely suspended former Marion County Court of Common Pleas Judge Jason Daniel Warner from practicing law in the state. The court found that Warner committed professional misconduct arising from his 2021 felony convictions of complicity to leaving the scene of an accident and complicity to tampering with evidence.

The case is entitled “Disciplinary Counsel v. Warner,” with case no. 2024-Ohio-551.

The charges cited Ohio Rules of Professional Conduct 1.1, 1.2, 8.4(b)(d), and 8.4(h). 

The case stemmed from a car accident that occurred in the early morning hours of June 4, 2020. Warner and his wife had been socializing and consuming alcohol before his wife, who was driving their Jeep Wrangler, failed to yield and crashed into an oncoming BMW X3. The BMW went off the road and collided with a utility pole. Witnesses observed Warner and his wife walk around the crash site and look into the BMW before driving away without calling 911 or waiting for emergency responders. One witness did call 911 after the Warners left the scene.

The driver of the BMW had to be extracted from his vehicle with the jaws of life and suffered serious injuries that required hospitalization. Warner and his wife returned home and waited about nine hours before contacting law enforcement to report the accident. Warner’s wife admitted to driving the Jeep.

At his bench trial, the two vehicular assault counts against Warner were dismissed. However, he was convicted on the remaining charges of complicity to leaving the scene of an accident and complicity to tampering with evidence. Warner appealed his convictions unsuccessfully.

In its decision, the Ohio Supreme Court said Warner’s felony convictions established he committed professional misconduct warranting discipline. The court found Warner violated judicial conduct rules requiring a judge to comply with the law and act in a manner promoting public confidence in the judiciary. He was also found to have violated professional conduct rules prohibiting illegal acts reflecting adversely on a lawyer’s honesty and conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice.

In his objections, Warner argued the evidence did not prove the alleged violations and that he lacked criminal intent. However, the court affirmed that a certified copy of a conviction is conclusive evidence of an offense in disciplinary proceedings. Warner could not collaterally attack his convictions in this case.

The Supreme Court considered various factors in determining the appropriate sanction, including the duties violated and aggravating and mitigating circumstances. Aggravating factors included harm to the vulnerable victim, selfish motives, multiple offenses, and failure to acknowledge wrongdoing. Mitigating factors were Warner’s clean record, effort to make restitution, cooperation, good character evidence, and other penalties already imposed.

Weighing the precedence of higher standards for judges and no prior cases resulting in less than an indefinite suspension for a convicted judge, the court agreed with the disciplinary board and indefinitely suspended Warner from practicing law with no credit for time already served under his interim felony suspension.

The Disposition states:

” Accordingly, Jason Daniel Warner is indefinitely suspended from the practice of law in Ohio with no credit for time he has served under his interim felony suspension. Costs are taxed to Warner.”

According to avvo.com, Mr. Warner is a government attorney in Marion, Ohio. He acquired his law license in Ohio in 1996. 

A copy of the original filing can be found here.