July 26, 2014

Elyria
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83°F
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Bailiff who quit had no driver’s license

ELYRIA — Doug Shawver, who resigned earlier this week as Lorain County Domestic Relations Judge Lisa Swenski’s bailiff after three days on the job, has a suspended driver’s license, according to records from the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles.

Swenski, who had earlier declined to discuss the reasons behind Shawver’s sudden resignation, confirmed Friday when questioned about his driving record that the suspension was why she asked Shawver to resign.

Shawver hung up Friday evening when reached by phone.

State records indicate that Shawver’s license was suspended for three months in 2003 for insurance issues, and was suspended again in March 2009 because of insurance issues and has remained so ever since.

Swenski said she didn’t learn that Shawver’s license was suspended until Jan. 3, her first day in office when he appeared to be avoiding making arrangements for parking while at work.

She said Shawver ultimately confessed to her that he didn’t have a license. When she asked how he had gotten to work that day, she said he replied that he drove.

Swenski said she told Shawver to go back to his office and call two licensed drivers to come to the Lorain County Justice Center at the end of the day, one to drive him home and another to drive his car.

She said she spent the next day and the weekend debating whether or not to allow Shawver to keep his job, but she finally decided that he needed to go.

Shawver was a key member of Swenski’s campaign team during the run-up to the March Democratic primary when she defeated then-county Domestic Relations Judge David Berta, and she said he sometimes drove her and others on campaign business, but no one knew about the suspension.

He was one of 21 candidates she said she interviewed for the bailiff’s job in October and decided to give him a chance to do the job. She said although she had some concerns about whether Shawver would like the job, she told him to shadow another bailiff and see if he still wanted it.

Swenski said he told her he liked it and wanted the job, so she agreed to hire him. But she also warned Shawver and other members of her personal staff that if they had any legal problems, they needed to tell her about them. Failure to do that, she said she told them, could lead to them being out of a job before they even started.

“He told me he didn’t have any of that and that was the end of it,” Swenski said. “And I believed him.”

Domestic Relations Court Administrator Jody Barilla said that unlike regular court employees, the members of a judge’s personal staff do not undergo background checks before they are hired.

Swenski said had she wanted to give Shawver, who was working two jobs, a chance, but the bailiff’s job involves a great deal of trust. She said if Shawver had told her about his suspension before he had started she would have worked with him to resolve it.

“I never in a million years thought he would lie to me,” she said.

Alan Wack, who served as Berta’s bailiff, will replace Shawver for 10 months beginning Monday. After Wack retires, Swenski said Duane Anderson will take over the position.

Contact Brad Dicken at 329-7147 or bdicken@chroniclet.com.