When facing a child custody case, many parents have questions and concerns over what evidence will be considered by the court in making the ultimate decision.  Demeaning text messages and negative character evidence are often proposed.  While this type of evidence can at times be persuasive to a court, the Ohio Revised Code sets forth the relevant path.  

      The Ohio Revised Code provides the following set of factors to be considered by a court in custody determinations:

  1. The child’s wishes, as expressed to the court
  2. The child’s existing relationships and interactions with his or her parents, siblings and extended family members
  3. The child’s home, school and community life
  4. The physical and mental health of all parties involved, including the child and parents
  5. The parents’ wishes
  6. Whether one parent is more likely to honor a court-approved visitation or parenting-time schedule
  7. Whether one parent has failed to make all child support payments required under an existing child support order
  8. The ability of each parent to cooperate and to encourage a loving relationship between the child and the other parent
  9. Any history of domestic violence or child abuse
  10. The geographical proximity of the parents to each other.

This list is not exclusive.  However, a litigant should be prepared to offer evidence that addresses these factors.  If you have questions concerning your child custody matter feel free to contact our office.




A common inquiry received by my office concerns individuals to a court order refusing to follow the order.  While any court order can be ignored, this article will focus on contempt in the context of a domestic relations/custody order.


Court orders are just that, orders.  They are not suggestions or mere considerations on how one is to conduct themselves as it relates to the subject matter of the order.  When a court issues a custody or parenting time order, each party to the order is expected to follow the terms and conditions set forth therein.  In the event that one of the parties to the order fails to follow the terms the legal remedy available to the aggrieved party is to seek to hold them in contempt of court.  


The issue of contempt is brought to the attention of the court through a motion.  A motion is nothing more than a request of the court to take some action. In this case the moving party is asking the court to hold the party not following the order in contempt.  If it is determined that one party has not followed the order the court is vested with broad abilities to remedy the situation. The court can take action anywhere from correcting the problem to sanctioning the wrongdoer with fines and even jail.  


If you feel you are in a situation where someone is refusing to follow an order of court contact my office to discuss your available remedies.  A motion for contempt may be necessary to enforce the order.         

Do I Really Need to Pay This Speed Camera Ticket?

Getting behind the wheel of your automobile and throttling down the highway is a favorite American pastime. Many folks find that their joyride experience ends in a speed camera citation delivered in the mail. Fortunately, if you live in Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, or Wisconsin, payment of these citations is now virtually optional.

How are Speed Camera Citations Different?

A brief discussion of the nature of these speed camera citations is in order. It is important that you understand that the speed camera citation you receive in the mail is unlike other traffic citations you may be familiar with. In the good old days the traffic ticket mechanism was simple. A police officer accused you of speeding and handed you a ticket. These tickets were heard by judges or magistrates in criminal division courts. If you were convicted of speeding you faced the possibility of points against your license, fines and court costs. The speed camera citation is very different. These cases are heard by hearing officers in an administrative hearing. If found to be in violation, the only penalty that can be imposed is a civil monetary fine and cost. Because these hearings are not criminal but civil in nature, points may not be assessed against your license. Often it is collection agents who enforce the civil penalties.

Do I Need To Pay Speed Camera Citations?

A 2016 policy decision by the three credit reporting agencies Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion changed the game for speed camera citations forever. As part of a legal settlement involving the States listed above, the three credit reporting agencies agreed not to report any debt that did not “arise from any contract or agreement to pay including, but not limited to to, certain fines, tickets, and other assessment.” (Settlement Agreement at Setion E(1)(c)). The end result of this policy is that speed camera citations are essentially unenforceable. Nonpayment will likely result in the debt being collected by a collection agency that no longer has the ability to negatively impact your credit report.

For a further discussion of your rights and obligations resulting from a speed camera citation contact the office of Attorney Robert J. Rohrbaugh II.

Chief Wahoo, Legal But Unacceptable?

The Cleveland Indians recently decided to abandoned their time honored mascot and logo, Chief Wahoo. This decision represents one of the first victories for the American Indian since the little Bighorn. While considered racist or at least insensitive by many, the big nosed heavy toothed red mascot and logo, is completely legal. Yes you read that right, completely legal.

In June of 2017 the Supreme Court of the United States struck down a Federal Trademark law forbidding the registration of offensive marks. SCOTUS reasoned that the law was an unconstitutional limit on free speech. The unanimous 8-0 decision was careful to limit itself to the specific law concerning the registration of offensive Trademarks. It had the effect of ensuring that laws would not be passed to prevent our favorite sports franchises from legally offending through potentially racist and insensitive mascots and logos.

The whole fiasco began when the Asian American Rock band the Slants, tried to trademark the name. Again don’t adjust your computer or smartphone. Yes, an Asian American Rock band wanted to register the name the “Slants.” The registration was initially denied as being offensive. But the band’s front man Simon Tam, took his cause all the way to the United States Supreme Court and won the ability to register his mark, offensive or not.

Not lost in this story is the fact that those attempting to register the potentially offensive mark the “Slants” were themselves Asian American. But the same cannot be said of offensive Trademarks like the “Washington Redskins” or the “Cleveland Indians.” The former tongue in cheek mockery of an Asian American band seeking to register a mark consisting of a term historically derogatory to Asian Americans, is very different than the latter situation. Maybe if a collaboration of American Indian tribes chose to form a sports franchise called the “Redskins” it might be easier to accept. Sort of like the overuse of the “N” word in rap music. But when mascots and logos potentially offensive to some are employed by those who take no offense to their use, the situation is completely different. At least this is what we can gather from the Cleveland Indians abandonment of the “Chief Wahoo” logo and mascot.

The decision of the Cleveland Indians to do away with a logo and mascot in place since 1946 that may be offensive to a very small minority of the American public proves that popular notions of decency and acceptability apparently override economic impact. A brief search of news articles related to the Cleveland decision reveals major dissent among fans. The franchise is well within their legal right to continue to use “Chief Wahoo” but voluntarily elected to withdraw its use in favor of a block letter “C.” Can it be that “big business,” has grown a conscience?

It remains to be seen whether posterity will look at Cleveland’s decision as a giant first step towards responsible branding or a terrible business decision. Will the goal of not offending one group result in an offense upon another, its lifeblood fan base? While these questions remain to be answered, in Cleveland the will of the people and not the law dictates free market business decisions. At least the will of some people.

Are You a Candidate For Veterans Court?

Have you served in the United States Military? Have you been accused of committing a crime in the State of Ohio? If you answered yes to both of those questions chances are you may be a candidate for the newly created Veterans Court.

What is Veterans Court?

Veterans Courts are a specialty docket treatment program assisting those men and women who have served our country and as a result of that service, have encountered difficulty re-entering civilian life. This difficult often manifests itself in drug, alcohol, or mental health issues. If a Veteran is willing to seek treatment for the underlying condition the special Veterans Court docket offers benefits not available in the general Court docket.

Why Veterans Court?

The process begins with an assessment for admission into the Veterans Court program. If deemed appropriate (the Veteran suffers from a condition associated or exasperated by his/her service and is willing and able to seek treatment for the condition) a plea into the program is scheduled. At the plea hearing the Veteran enters a plea of guilty to his/her charge. But unlike the general docket, the plea is held in abeyance and treatment commences. You will be required to appear at scheduled informal hearings to update the court on your treatment success or failures. If after a predetermined period of time treatment is successful, the charges are dismissed and the record of the arrest is sealed.

This docket is not without risk. If the Veteran is not successful at treatment the court has various sanction options available. These sanctions typically are progressive in nature beginning less severe but possibly culminating in negative termination. If negatively terminated the Veteran already having entered a plea of guilty and waived the right to trial, a sentencing hearing on the plea is scheduled.

If you are a Veteran and you find yourself accused of a crime the Veterans Court may be a viable option to both receiving help for a lingering issue and resolving a criminal charge.

Ohio Civil Service and “Fallback Rights”

Non appointed government employees in the State of Ohio recognize Civil Service protection over their job. Consider civil service protection as a bundle of property rights that protect an employee from termination without a well defined just cause. But what happens when the appointing authority (Mayor, Trustee etc.) offers you a promotional appointment to a managerial or supervisory position? Is it really beneficial to leave the protected area of civil service for a non protected position that while it may pay more, also likely comes with greater responsibility? Before accepting an appointment from a classified civil service position to an unclassified non civil service position here are a few things to consider.

Classified v. Unclassified

It is important to first determine whether a position held by an employee is classified or unclassified. This determinitaion will allow the employee to determine what rights and protections they recognize.

Classified Employee

Generally, a classified employee is one who has passed a civil service examination and is employed in a non managerial supervisory position. These employees enjoy civil service protection under Ohio law and cannot be removed from their position absent a showing of incompetence, inefficiency, dishonesty, drunkenness, immoral conduct, insubordination, discourteous treatment of the public, neglect of duty. (R.C. 124.11) The Supreme Court of Ohio has stated that these employees maintain a “property right” in their job.

Unclassified Employee

Unclassified employees are those who have been appointed by an appointing authority (Mayor, Trustee, etc.) usually to managerial or supervisory positions. This group of employees are not protected by the Ohio Civil Service laws. They serve by appointment of the appointing authority and generally, can be removed at any time by the same or different appointing authority. They do not maintain a “property right” in their appointed position.

It is not uncommon for an appointing authority to seek to fill important managerial and supervisory positions from the ranks of those already employed in classified civil service positions. However, when accepting an appointment an employee moves out of the classified service and into the unclassified service where the protections of civil service are no longer applicable. A common misunderstanding has prevented many from accepting the promotional appointment for fear of losing the protections of a classified position.

Fallback Rights

Ohio law is clear in both statute and interpretation, that upon certain triggering events, an employee who moves from a classified position to an unclassified position has the right to “fallback” to the classified position held prior to the move. In practical application this means that once an employee who has moved from a classified position to a non classified position is removed, demoted, or otherwise has the terms and conditions of their un classified employment altered, they may request to be moved back into their former classified position. This request must be granted under Ohio law. Moreover, if the classified position previously held by the individual no longer exists than a comparable classified position must be found.

Ohio law allows individual to accept an appointment to an unclassified position which may offer greater responsibility and pay without fear of losing civil service protection. While the new promotional appointment is not a civil service protected position, upon termination, demotion, or other change to the terms and conditions of the appointment the individual may fallback to their previous civil service position.


Innocent until proven guilty is a phrase we hear often. From the plain verbiage it assumes that until you have been proven guilty you are innocent. But is this really how the public perceives an accused? Do we really look at them as though they are innocent individuals charged with crimes that the Government must prove before this innocence is gone?

The English lawyer Sir William Garrow (1760–1840) insisted that “accusers be robustly tested in court. An objective observer in the position of the juror must reasonably conclude that the defendant almost certainly committed the crime.” But is this reality? Considering that it is the Government who has the most access to the media the accused is behind the proverbial eight ball from the beginning, most likely already convicted in the court of popular opinion known as the media. Have you ever read an article about an accused written from the perspective of the accused? The answer is most likely no. This modern phenomenon flies in the face of time honored concepts of humanity and law.

No one can dispute that citizens have far more access to information than ever before. Social media, online news and the internet in general provide people with a gateway to news access never before available. But has this availability of media coverage destroyed the presumption of innocence?

Consider the fact that news articles are often written from the police perspective. News stories often quote police reports drafted by the officer’s themselves. Rarely if ever is an accused contacted and provided an opportunity to supply a written narrative of the events that transpired from their perspective. Rarely if ever is the accused given the first opportunity to address the public through a media story. This leads to the inescapable conclusion that citizens are flooded with information about a particular case or person from the government’s perspective. This is the information they have to rely on to form their initial opinion of innocence or guilt. In essence the government has already proven each and every element of the offense beyond a reasonable doubt and the individual is no longer innocent in the court of popular opinion. The danger with this phenomenon is that popular opinion may find its way into the jury room.

To insure that this very important right is preserved it is the duty of every citizen to withhold judgment until they have heard both sides of the dispute. To do otherwise is to change the burden of proof to the accused. Are we prepared as a society to ignore years of careful jurisprudence and create a different “media burden” and “court burden.” Is our own lustful appetite for dirt more important than well thought concepts of law? Only time will answer these questions and only those actually accused of crimes will care.


Many folks mistakenly believe that asset protection is a tool only for the wealthy. The simple truth is most people have more asset value than they think. A few simple steps can protect those assets in the unfortunate happening of lawsuits, nursing home care, divorce or any other unfortunate situation.

There are a few commonly overlooked assets that individuals may want to protect.

Determining whether or not you have equity in your home is as simple as determining what is owed on the balance of your mortgage and subtracting this amount from your homes fair market value. The County Auditor and other real estate valuing websites are good starting points for this analysis. If this amount is a positive number congratulations you have positive equity in your home. However, creditors may see your home as an available source of repayment by attachment, lien, or foreclosure.


Most folks believe that forming a limited liability company offers them complete insulation from lawsuits, judgments, and other forms of garnishment so long as they hold all of the assets of the company in the name of the LLC. In the event that the LLC is a company with positive value, the membership units maintained by the individual may also have value. That value is another asset of the individual that creditors may seek to attach, lien or attach to recover.


In the past individuals have been reluctant to consider an irrevocable trust as a viable option to asset protection. The nature of irrevocable trusts is such that assets in, lose their flexibility leaving you the inability to acquire and dispose as you see fit. However, recent changes to the law and the manner of implementation have created a scenario where your assets are safe yet flexible.


When you combine an irrevocable trust with a limited liability company and a management agreement you acquire the benefit of asset protection with the feature of asset control.

STEP 1: An irrevocable trust is formed. Ohio residents have the luxury of recent changes to the law that allow for the creation of certain trusts that insulate trust assets from the reach of creditors. These trusts also change the nature of the property in that they are now owned by the trust. This has far reaching implications in situations such as divorce and elderly care, to name a few.

STEP 2: Form a limited liability company. The membership units of the LLC will be owned by the Trust. Your assets you seek to protect will also be owned by the LLC. This prevents creditors from attempting to utilize the membership units as an asset during collection.

STEP 3: The trust and you enter into a management agreement wherein you are vested with the authority to manage the LLC. This allows you the flexibility of controlling the assets owned by the LLC but the membership units owned by the trust, with the benefit of those assets being safe.


If you or someone you knows wishes to develop the peace of mind in knowing the assets they worked hard to acquire are safe from the reach of creditors then this is something that needs serious consideration. Contact my office to schedule a cost free analysis to determine if this approach is beneficial for you.

Why Wouldn’t The Lawyer Take My Case?

If you were injured in an automobile accident chances are you sought legal advice to determine if you were entitled to compensation for your injuries.  The media is flooded with Personal Injury firms advertising that they can help you get paid.  And better still, you do not have to worry about paying the lawyer any money upfront, because they do not get paid until you do!  To the individual involved in the accident this is a win win scenario.  So then why didn’t the lawyer take your case?


Most lawyers handling personal injury claims agree to represent individuals involved in an automobile accident on a contingent fee basis.  This means that the fee ultimately paid to the lawyer is determined by a percentage of the final recovery.  In other words if your lawyer agreed to a one third contingent fee and your case settled for $10,000.00 your lawyer would receive approximately $3,333.33 for his or her services.  Additionally, in most contingent fee scenarios the lawyer agrees to advance any costs associated with the case (filing fees, court reporter fees, records request fees, etc.)  This means that the client does not encounter any costs to pursue their claim.  Probably the most attractive feature of a contingent fee scenario from a client perspective, is that if your case does not yield compensation by settlement or verdict, you do not owe the lawyer any money (you will have to reimburse the firm for case expenses only).

  When you breakdown the dynamics of the contingency fee scenario it becomes very obvious that all of the risk associated with the case belongs to the lawyer.  The lawyer is investing his or her time and money into the case with the expectation of yielding a profit from the final settlement or verdict.  For this reason many firms will not accept a client unless a careful cost benefit analysis promises a favorable outcome.  When you realize that all of the risk associated with the case rests with the firm, you will have a better understanding of why a lawyer may or may not decide to accept your case on a contingent fee arrangement.

Is Your Cell Phone Password Safe From The Police?

Most Americans would tell you that they value their privacy.  To protect and serve, law enforcement is often required to invade that privacy.  Constant advancements in technology usually keep private citizens one step ahead of law enforcement.  However, several recent Federal Court decisions regarding the ability of law enforcement to compel private citizens to open their password protected cell phones, may cause people to rethink how they protect those devices from prying eyes.

In 2014 a Federal Court in Virginia ruled that law enforcement could compel an individual to open a cellular telephone protected by a fingerprint lock.  The Court distinguished fingerprint locks from a password stored in ones memory, reasoning that fingerprints are not any different than other items law enforcement already maintains the right to compel individuals to provide like DNA, fingerprints, or  handwriting samples.   Compelling someone to reveal a password stored in their brain however, would be the equivalent of compelling someone to testify against themselves, which the law does not allow.  Similarly in Texas and California, Federal Judges have ordered individuals to open telephones seized by the police in criminal investigations that were locked by fingerprint.  

Very recently a Federal Court in Pennsylvania refused to compel an individual to reveal his pass code to open his telephone.  The basis for this refusal was the protections provided by the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution. (privilege against self incrimination)

It appears that the courts at the Federal level have drawn a distinction between fingerprints and pass codes with the former maintaining none of the Constitutional protections of the latter.  The United States Supreme Court will most likely have the final say on this issue.  Until then I will be using a pass code.

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