Delaware County Magistrate Stephen E. Weithman grabbed a county information technology worker by the shirt for about three seconds before letting him go and leaving his courtroom last Friday, surveillance footage obtained by the Gazette through a public records request shows.
Weithman pulled Nathan Long closer to his face and appears to say something, but the video does not contain audio. Long did not visibly react, and proceeded to work on Weithman’s computer, located on the magistrate’s bench.
Long filed a police report later that day. Police are investigating disorderly conduct, a minor misdemeanor punishable with a maximum $150 fine, but no charges have been filed.
As a result of the incident, Delaware County Common Pleas Judge W. Duncan Whitney suspended Weithman, who has worked for the county since 1993, without pay for this week.
Whitney indicated in a letter detailing Weithman’s punishment that the magistrate said he was joking. Even so, touching another employee “cannot be tolerated,” Whitney said.
If Weithman is charged, it could come to the attention of the Supreme Court of Ohio’s Board of Commissioners on Grievances and Discipline, the government body responsible for monitoring judicial conduct.
Felonies are an automatic call for punishment, but there is no uniform response for misdemeanors, Commission secretary Jon Marshall said.
“There is no automatic answer,” Marshall said.
Generally, conduct standards for magistrates, judges and lawyers are particularly concerned with actions associated with dishonesty or that reflect poorly on their ability to practice law.
County Administrator Tim Hansley said if Weithman were an employee of the commissioners office, his conduct would violate the county’s employee policy.
The policy does not specifically forbid employees from touching other employees, “but it’s just common sense,” Hansley said.