Ohio Court Scrutinizes Law Profs’ 17-Year Divorce Battle


When Sharlene Boltz and Christo Lassiter aren’t teaching the next generation of lawyers, they are engaged in a legal battle of epic proportions. Boltz and Lassiter, both law professors, married in 1986. According to the Cincinnati Enquirer the couple divorced ten years later. With today’s high divorce rate, that isn’t much of a story. But the domestic relations proceedings which began in 1996 are still ongoing. That means these two law professors, neither of whom teach family law, have been fighting for seventeen years.

The legal battle has sparked scrutiny from the judiciary, debate from the public, and presumably a gold mine of billable hours. The Enquirer quotes Hamilton County Common Pleas Court Judge Leslie Ghiz from a July hearing. Judge Ghiz was less than pleased:

I am really shocked, because when I was in law school my professors were outstanding. They never would have told me that behaving the way you all have, both of you, over the past 20 years, is acceptable behavior[.]

Judge Ghiz went even further in her rebuke of the pair, calling on the State Bar of Ohio to step in:

Both parties ought to be admonished by the State Bar of Ohio. Both are law professors and officers of the Court. Each has a duty to behave in a proper manner, particularly with regard to legal filings, and each has more than pushed the envelope with regard to abusing the court system. It is frightening to this Court that either is teaching current law students the boundaries and ethics of our profession. Both should be thoroughly embarrassed and ashamed of their behavior[.]

Almost as interesting as the prolonged court battle is the commentary on this story. In the original article Mr. Lassiter is quoted saying he has only wanted to father his children, and that the case is not fueled by ego. He went on to blame judges presiding over the case for not “cracking down on what he said were improper activities by his ex-wife.” The article cites an unnamed magistrate who purportedly called Boltz “unrelentingly” hostile toward Mr. Lassiter.

But Mr. Boltz, Sharlene Boltz’s husband, disagrees. In a comment on The Inquisitr’s coverage of the story, Mr. Boltz weighed in:

What this article fails to mention is that Ms Boltz has not initiated a case against the other party since regaining custody of her children in 2008 – at which time the court said that it was in the children’s best interest to be returned to her. (per the court record).

Interestingly the article’s author refused to take a comment from Ms Boltz representative – her husband – on Monday afternoon 8/12, as she was away on her 2nd honeymoon on 8/5 when the requests for comment were initiated and she wasn’t back in her office until after the article was published — Hmmmm, coincidental timing? When asked to take the comment, he became what sounded like defensive and said that he would only take a comment from her. Don’t journalists typically take comments from family members in “National” news stories? ( referring to the authors own comments on the Enquirer page. ) Hmmm…?

Additionally, Ms Boltz has continued to move on with her life since 2007, getting re-married, etc…and doesn’t want anything to do with the other party. Which is another reason she does not want to comment personally…

Had additional research been done on this case/story, it would have been extremely obvious who has filed the VAST majority of the cases in this long list – and it is not Ms Boltz. ( again, check the record. ) This article was published not long after a Hamilton County judge ruled that one of the 3 most recent cases filed by the other party was essentially null, awarding Ms Boltz atty fees equal to the amount requested against her in the case — at which point the first case was appealed. (again, this is on the court record…this latest case entry would appear to be the MOST telling of the nature of the past 5 years…)

So, anyone wanting to see the real story can simply look it up for themselves, but this article doesn’t appear to accurately represent the facts in the recent history, preventing the reader from making their own informed opinion… You be the judge…

But really, should anyone care? Are we invading the private lives of these two litigious professor? One Lawyerist reader, Laurie Gibson, thinks so. A family law attorney herself and a former student of Ms. Boltz, Ms. Gibson commented on our Facebook page that this story should not be spread. But another commenter, John Allison, disagreed:

This isn’t a private issue, it’s a public one. If these two people were able to come to a mutual understanding then they would not have had the need for a public forum. This is exactly the kind of case that needs scrutiny by academia and other lawyers alike. This case contains great lessons to bidding lawyers everywhere.

Now the case, and presumably the public’s scrutiny, will march on. The case is scheduled for a hearing on September 6 because, according to The Enquirer, Mr. Lassiter says he is still owed money.

(image: http://www.flickr.com/photos/75436899@N00/3879686946/in/


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