MOUNT VERNON — A Knox County judge has been charged with driving under the influence.
Juvenile and Probate Judge Jennifer Springer is charged with DUI and failure to stop/yield to a stop sign in Mount Vernon Municipal Court.
According to charges filed by the Ohio State Highway Patrol, Mount Gilead Post, Springer was stopped early Sunday on Yauger Road in the area of Vernonview Drive. Springer submitted a urine sample for a blood alcohol concentration test, according to OSHP charges.
Mount Vernon City Law Director Rob Broeren said this morning a copy of the report by OSHP regarding the incident has not yet been filed with the court. Broeren said he became aware of the charge Tuesday.
The stop was made within Mount Vernon City limits, according to the charges. Knox County 911 records indicate Mount Vernon police officers were on scene briefly, checked in, then resumed patrol.
Broeren said the OSHP has jurisdiction on all roads in the counties to which they are assigned.
Broeren said he has contacted a law director from a neighboring county to prosecute the case to eliminate the perception of a conflict of interest as Broeren and Springer worked together in the county prosecutor’s office, along with Judge John Thatcher who was prosecutor at the time.
“Once the court has received the report, the law director from a neighboring county and I will review the case,” Broeren said. “The hope is he will prosecute the case for us.”
Broeren said he expects Thatcher to request a visiting judge appointment in the case through the Ohio Supreme Court. Springer is scheduled for arraignment Friday, but the appointments for a special prosecutor and visiting judge may push the schedule back, Broeren said.
Springer is charged with a firstoffense OVI, which carries a minimum of three days in jail up to a maximum of 180 days in jail. The charge further carries a driver’s license suspension of a minimum of one year, and up to three years, as well as a maximum fine of $1,075.
Broeren said a person convicted of a first OVI offense can get credit for the mandatory jail time if they attend an approved 72hour lock-in program. The license suspension can be shortened to six months, Broeren said.
Knox County Sheriff’s Capt. Jay Sheffer said jail records indicate that Springer was not booked in on the charge. He said OSHP will often bring someone in for an OVI to either test them on the jail’s alcohol breath machine, or use jail facilities to obtain a urine sample, without booking them in.
When charging someone with OVI, an officer has the option of booking them into the jail or releasing them into the custody of another individual who can get them safely home, Sheffer said. He is unaware if this is what happened with Springer, however.
Springer was elected to the bench in 2014 and began her term in 2015. In April 2018, Springer began a leave of absence, citing unspecified medical reasons. In an e-mail to the News dated July 13, Springer said the medical issues are “serious, but non-life threatening.”
Attempts to contact Springer for comment were unsuccessful as of press time.