Judge Robert Rettich III of Miamisburg Municipal court dies- now the race to replace begins

It’s not often that judgeships come available in Montgomery County, because of the not-so-secret pact between the two parties to not ever challenge a sitting judge. That’s why there are currently 6 candidates running (3 from each party) for Judge of the Court of Common Pleas (1) UTE 7/1/2025:

D Jacqueline V. Gaines  Oakwood 45419
R Bob Hanseman Dayton 45458
R Michele S.H. Henne 45419
D Angelina Jackson 45426
R Kimberly Ann Melnick Dayton 45419
D Tony Schoen Kettering 45429

Yesterday, an unexpected vacancy opened in Miamisburg Municipal court with the untimely passing of Judge Robert Rettich III. From his official bio on the court site:

Judge Rettich received the endorsement of the Montgomery County Republican Party in 2011, and began his term on January, 1 2012. A ceremony was held for the Judge’s swearing in ceremony at the Miamisburg Civic Center, on December 30, 2011.

Source: Miamisburg Municipal Court

Word is that he had planned to step down early, and pass his judgeship to his daughter, Kathryn Alyse Rettich who used to work in the County Prosecutors office, but now works at Freund Freeze and Arnold (a favorite law firm of municipal governments in Dayton). They were treading water, waiting for her to accumulate 6 years experience as a licensed practicing attorney, a goal she would reach on May 2, 2022, but, alas, the Judge didn’t make it that long.

Most would have questioned why a lawyer, who was involved in a shooting death, would have made it to the bench.

Rettich is an attorney who is running in the Republican primary race for Miamisburg Muncipal Court Judge against John Kolberg. He said he came home to surprise an intruder, who was stealing Rettich’s gun. They struggled, and the other man, Mark Rotellini, was shot in the face and died.

But police records from 1978 and 1979, including statements by Rettich and his wife, Kathy, tell a different story, namely that Rotellini had lived in the Miamisburg home and worked on it, that Rotellini had stolen some items from the Rettichs and wanted money for their return and that Rotellini walked in to the house behind Rettich.

Source: Judge candidate Rettich’s account of fatal shooting posing issues

However, how judges get their lifetime appointments to the local bench is one of the most overlooked elements in our “Culture of Corruption” that the FBI was supposedly investigating back in 2019. The reality is, Dayton is no different than Boss Tweeds rule of New York with backroom deals devised in Tammany Hall.

The local political parties elect or appoint members to the central committee of each party, with a majority of them, serving in patronage positions. In other words- you want to keep your government job, you raise your hand when the politicians tell you to. County Prosecutor Mat Heck had at least 20 votes in the Montgomery County Dem party, Karl Keith a similar amount- as did Mark Owens. I can’t tell you about the Republican party- but- it’s the same deal.

So next we wait for who the Republican Party Screening committee appoints to fill the judges seat, until the next election, which will be the first and only election where they will be challenged.

At one point, Rettich’s magistrate, Jeff Slyman would have also been in the running, but now that he’s moved to the county’s western municipal court, it’s questionable if he’ll return to the ‘burg, even though he’s still listed on their site. Slyman was known to run around with his best bud, Aaron Hartley, who still hasn’t been sentenced in Kettering Municipal Court by Judge Jim Long for the assault he was found guilty of back at the end of July of last year. Our legal community has some really tightly knit cliques, and it’s part of the reason why, people like Hartley get away with so much for so long. BTW- his court date for threatening to put a bullet in another magistrates head isn’t until 4-20-22.

Will Miamisburg voters get a real choice for Judge? We’ll have to wait and see. Due to the date of death, the unexpired term ending 11/7/2023, will probably have to be voted on in November.

 

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