Butler County Prosecutor Michael Gmoser is questioning whether a local attorney got “special treatment” when he was released from jail without a bond hearing after being arrested on domestic violence charges.
Attorney Jeff Meadows, an associate at Lyons and Lyons Attorneys at Law, which is a law practice owned by Area I Court Judge Robert Lyons, was charged with misdemeanor domestic violence on Nov. 10 following an incident at his home on Tree View Drive in Liberty Twp.
Meadows was taken to the Butler County Jail after 2:30 a.m., where he was allowed to make a phone call. A short time later, Butler County Area II Judge Kevin McDonough called and instructed jail personnel to release Meadows on an OR bond and indicated a temporary protection order had been issued, according to Butler County Chief Deputy Anthony Dwyer.
A 2005 change in Ohio’s domestic violence law, called Amy’s Law, requires domestic violence offenders to appear before a judge to consider the circumstances and risks of each individual case before bond is set.
Law enforcement officials say it is rare, but not unprecedented, that a judge would call the jail and order the release of a detainee.
The call Meadows made was from a phone line that is not recorded in the jail, so it is unknown who he called. A copy of the sheriff’s office report on Meadows lists Lyons’ name and cell phone number as a contact.
Meadows could not be reached for comment.
McDonough said he did order Meadows’ release, but would not say who called him to request it. He added he could not comment on a pending case. Often domestic violence cases are heard by magistrates in Area II Court, McDonough said.
When contacted by the Journal-News about this situation, Lyons declined to comment.
Because Meadows is an attorney in a judge’s law firm, Gmoser said it gives the appearance that he got special treatment. The prosecutor has previously raised questions about conflicts caused by defense attorneys serving as part-time judges, such as the area court judges. He said his office should have gotten a phone call before Meadows was released.
“I would like to have input on bond,” Gmoser said. “I would like to see the report and flesh it out. Find out what the facts are, then consider bond. That didn’t happen.”
The prosecutor also said he can not find any indication that a temporary protection order was issued in the Meadows case.
Butler County Sheriff’s deputies were called to Meadows’ residence about 2:25 a.m. by Michelle Meadows, who said she questioned her husband when he pulled his vehicle into the garage about his whereabouts and he became angry, according to the report.
Michelle Meadows said Jeff became verbally abusive and pushed her through a door then continued to yell at her and her daughter.
After interviewing the daughter and Jeff Meadows, who said Michelle struck him two times in the face, deputies determined Jeff Meadows was the primary physical aggressor and took him into custody, according to a sheriff’s office report.
Gmoser said a special prosecutor will be handling Meadows’ case because he is a Butler County attorney who tries cases with assistant prosecutors. He questioned whether McDonough, who often hears domestic violence cases in Area II Court, should be hearing the case.
Meadows is scheduled to be back in Area II Court on Dec. 26.