VANDALIA, Ohio (WDTN) - Vandalia's city council met in a special session Monday in an attempt to unravel courtroom concerns between a judge and a prosecutor.
Vandalia Municipal Court Judge Cynthia Heck banned city prosecutor Claudia Turrell from her courtroom. Judge Heck filed the document, citing issues with Turrell's "credibility."
Judge Heck's husband is Montgomery County Prosecutor Mat Heck. His public information officer Greg Flanagan confirmed the issue over rumors that Judge Heck was stopped for suspicion of drunk driving. Flanagan said those rumors are not true.
Vandalia city officials said they are investigating this case and are following the court order, suspending Turrell with pay until the investigation is complete.
Vandalia's city manager, Rob Anderson, said his investigation did not concern those rumors. He spoke with 2News after meeting privately with council members.
"My investigation is merely about the personnel matter," said Anderson. "I have a prosecutor who is not allowed in the courtroom right now. I am trying to get to the bottom of that issue."
Anderson said the city is utilizing its legal counsel in the matter.
Turrell has also obtained an attorney, Jeffrey Silverstein, to represent her. During a brief phone interview with 2New's Alexa Ashwell, Silverstein declined to divulge any information on the issue at hand, but commended the city in its handling of the investigation.
"I applaud the city for not necessarily placing her on leave but at least keeping her on paid leave while the situation sorts itself out," said Silverstein.
The decision will ultimately be up to Anderson because he is Claudia Turrell's boss.
2News obtained a copy of a letter Anderson addressed to Claudia Turrell following her suspension. It read in part, "I am considering your dismissal as Prosecutor with the City of Vandalia. I am considering your termination because of your continued difficulties in communicating and working with Vandalia Municipal Court, and particularly with Judge Cynthia Heck."
Turrell's personnel file shows a written reprimand she received in April 2011 from Anderson. It details an incident that occurred on April 6 between Turrell and Judge Heck. The last paragraph read, "I must insist that going forward you refrain from taking action or making statements to Judge Heck that may be deemed disrespectful or embarrassing to the Judge.
Anderson calls this issue complex and sensitive.
"This will take time to sort through," said Anderson. "We want to be fair. We want to be right."
The council will meet again to further discuss the matter, but have yet to set a date.
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