The Columbus Dispatch

Dewine, officials face contempt hearing

- Jessie Balmert

Seven of Ohio’s top leaders must appear before the Ohio Supreme Court Tuesday to explain why they missed a court-imposed deadline to pass state House and Senate maps.

The hearing is set for 10 a.m. Tuesday and all seven members of the Ohio Redistrict­ing Commission, including Gov. Mike Dewine and three of Ohio’s top legislativ­e leaders, must appear.

Justice Pat Dewine recused himself from the hearing involving his father Gov. Dewine. Chief Justice Maureen O’connor will appoint a replacemen­t.

Justice Sharon Kennedy, a Republican running for chief justice, disagreed with the decision to hold a hearing, she wrote in a letter.

The hearing comes after the commission violated an Ohio Supreme Court order to draw new maps for the 99 House and 33 Senate districts by midnight Feb. 17. Instead, several Republican­s on the commission declared the task impossible after rejecting Democrats’ proposed maps.

On Wednesday, commission members offered excuses to avoid being held in contempt of court, including that seven individual­s couldn’t be penalized for the commission’s collective failure to craft maps. They asked for more time to work on state House and Senate maps.

A person can be held in contempt of court for a variety of reasons, including disobeying or resisting a court order, misbehavin­g in court, not responding to a subpoena or failing to submit to genetic testing in custody cases.

For a first offense, the maximum penalty is a $250 fine and up to 30 days in jail.

Jessie Balmert is a reporter for the USA TODAY Network Ohio Bureau, which serves the Columbus Dispatch and 20 other news organizati­ons.

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