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Mother Has Son Tested for Covid-19, Gets Threatened with Contempt of Court

The latest from Geauga County Judge Timothy Grendell


Longtime VC readers may recall Ohio Judge Timothy Grendell, a juvenile and probate court judge on the Geauga County Court of Common Pleas, who threatened to hold people in contempt for saying negative things about him in private. That was but one of example of the sort of outrageous behavior Judge Grendell has been accused of in his time on the bench, as Ken White of Popehat detailed here.

Well, here is a new one. As detailed in this extensive report from ProPublica, Judge Grendell threatened to hold a mother in contempt of court for getting a Covid-19 test for her son. From the report:

A few weeks after he testified to lawmakers [about Covid-19 policies], he referred to the pandemic as a "panic-ademic" in the midst of a custody proceeding in his courtroom in Geauga County, outside Cleveland. And he has claimed that 15 mothers in his court have used the virus as an excuse in custody cases to "mess with" their exes' parenting time.

Then, on Oct. 2, Grendell made an order that legal experts call unheard of, and medical experts say could cause harm. The judge banned two parents, who were wrangling over custody of their young boys, from having the "children undergo COVID-19 testing" without his approval, according to the court record.

A doctor subsequently ordered a coronavirus test for one of the boys before admitting him to a children's hospital for severe breathing problems. When Grendell found out, he threatened to find the mother in contempt of court, a move that could lead to her being thrown in jail.

The story also includes Judge Grendell's response to the allegations:

Grendell declined ProPublica's request to be interviewed for this story. In his most recent judgment entry, on Dec. 9, he said the mother at the center of the COVID-19 testing case had failed to return the children on several occasions, "using COVID-19 or her concerns about the children and COVID-19 as the reason for not complying with the Court's orders."

Through his court administrator, Grendell said that he was prohibited from commenting on pending cases, or about broader accusations related to his conduct. He said his decisions are "always in the best interest of the children" and "based on sound law and the actual facts in the case." Grendell reiterated that he has seen situations where one parent repeatedly misuses COVID-19 testing and quarantining to prevent the other parent from spending court-ordered time with children.

"The court is fully cognizant of the seriousness of COVID and understands the need for all members of the public to be careful and to engage in the necessary and recommended safeguards," Grendell said.

Judge Grendell was unopposed in the November 2020 election, and has said he may retire before the end of his term, enabling him to collect his salary and a pension.