Judge alleging Columbus mayor tried to influence decision to close bus station recusing from case
Franklin County Judge Stephanie Mingo recused herself from a court case that would decide whether or not to close a troubled Greyhound bus station following her claim that Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther tried to influence her decision in the matter.
Mingo filed a recusal order in the Franklin County Municipal Court Environmental Division on Monday, citing a chapter in the Ohio Rules of Judicial Conduct that requires a judge to disqualify himself or herself from a matter under a variety of specific circumstances, including whether the judge's impartiality might reasonably be questioned.
The judge alleged in court that Ginther called her personal cell phone in mid-October and told her, "I know you care about the community. I care about the community. This Greyhound station is a problem for the community. We really need to do the right thing for the community and shut it down."
She is considering this case to be between the City of Columbus and the two bus companies that operate the station on Wilson Road on the city's west side. The court has been hearing witnesses and was set to decide whether or not to issue a preliminary injunction to temporarily lose the station.
Mingo informed both the city and the bus companies about the call in a meeting in October less than 24 hours after it occurred, but she did not initially disclose whom the elected official was. Lawyers for the bus lines made a motion to reveal Ginther's identity in November. The court disclosed the elected official was in fact Ginther in late November, after the mayor was re-elected to a third term.
Mingo said that while no one asked for her recusal, she had personal knowledge of a fact that is in dispute. She said when defense attorneys were cross examining witnesses in a hearing on Friday, those attorneys made it clear they would bring up Ginther's phone call as part of their defense.
Court spokesperson Jodi Andes said the Ohio Supreme Court will have to appoint a new judge for the case. The new judge will decide whether or not the bus station shuts down.