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Judge to Resign as Ohio State University Trustee in Ethics Deal

COLUMBUS, Ohio ― A federal judge will resign his seat as an Ohio State University trustee and teach two semesters of law school classes without pay to resolve an ethics investigation over his law school teaching job, under an agreement announced Thursday.

Judge Algenon Marbley acknowledged the pay he received for teaching from 2007 through February ran counter to state Ethics Commission advisory rulings and violated state law, according to the agreement.

Although Marbley could have been charged with a crime, the commission said there was no evidence he misused his position as trustee to receive more pay than what the university already provides federal judges, the agreement said. Marbley performed his duties as a professor and was highly regarded, it said.

“This was not hidden,” the Ethics Commission’s executive director, Paul Nick, said in an interview. “This was not a situation where he was concealing the actions that he took.”

Franklin County prosecutor Ron O’Brien and state auditor Dave Yost signed off on the agreement.

Marbley called the events “an unfortunate set of circumstances” beyond his control.

“I have been transparent and forthcoming about my 14 years of teaching and, at all times, I fulfilled and took seriously my ethical obligations as a trustee and as a federal judge,” Marbley said in a resignation letter Thursday to trustee chairman Jeffrey Wadsworth.

Marbley will be “sorely missed,” Ohio State spokesman Chris Davey said.

Ohio State first identified the potential violation in December 2012, conducted an internal review and then notified the Ethics Commission in November 2013, according to Thursday’s settlement.

The university maintained Marbley met a four-fold test under state law allowing the arrangement. That included Marbley’s background as a judge and past partner in a large, national law firm and the mentoring and nurturing opportunities he brought as one of only a few Black federal judges in Ohio.

The university and Marbley’s attorney, Larry James, also said Marbley was teaching the classes a full seven years before he was appointed trustee in 2007 and he never voted on his compensation, which was set before he became trustee.

The Ethics Commission has previously said trustees at Kent State and the University of Toledo were prohibited from holding paid teaching positions.

Marbley taught without pay in March and April during the investigation. Under the agreement, his free teaching the next two semesters will cover the $26,955 he was paid in 2013, while his resignation is penalty for the $6,739 he earned for two months teaching in January and February, Nick said.

Marbley was appointed a federal judge by President Bill Clinton in 1997.

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