Case of Dr Husel as former judge turned prosecutor Janet Grubb
After a 40-year legal career, including 18 years as a Franklin County Municipal Court judge, Janet Grubb decided to slow down.
In 2016, she entered semi-retirement, working part-time as a magistrate in the Mayor’s Court of Upper Arlington.
She did not expect a call in December from new Franklin County District Attorney Gary Tyack, who asked her if she would become one of his first assistant prosecutors and manage the office’s criminal division.
Grubb accepted the job, but admits she did it with “a lot of trepidation.”
“I think Gary knew I could handle the subject. Of course I didn’t know at the time that I could,” she said with a laugh. “I’m just that 70-year-old retired little lady sitting there in yoga pants, you know?”
Self-mockery aside, Grubb is confident in his abilities, which Tyack has been aware of since the 1980s, when the two were legal partners.
“She’s been involved in criminal defense work, she’s been a municipal court judge, she has the highest personal integrity,” Tyack said. “The only question was whether she would like to come out of semi-retirement. When I found out that she was available and willing to take the job, it was obvious to me.”
Tyack suffered a stroke during the fall campaign and is still in physical therapy. Some members of the legal community have therefore speculated that Grubb and Jeanine Hummer, the Civil Division’s first assistant, are running the office.
Tyack said his health had nothing to do with these hiring decisions.
“The people I brought are people I knew and served in important places in the past,” he said. “I don’t make the best use of my right arm and right leg, but (the stroke) didn’t affect my brain. I’m in the office five days a week.”
Regardless of the perceptions of some, Grubb said, “Gary’s executive function is excellent and his mental acuity is stronger than ever. Jeanine and I are his lieutenants. None of us have a reputation for shrinking violets, but we let’s recognize Gary’s authority as boss. It’s his office. “
Manage the Husel case
Grubb, who turned 71 on Sunday, not only oversees the approximately 60 lawyers in the office’s criminal division, she’s also part of the team tasked with prosecuting the office’s largest pending criminal case – the 25 counts of murder against Dr William Husel.
A former Mount Carmel Health emergency doctor, Husel is accused of killing 25 intensive care patients with overdoses of pain relievers from February 2015 to November 2018.
Grubb and deputy prosecutors Leigh Bayer and Chelsey Capezzuti will represent the state at Husel’s trial, which is due to start on February 14 and is expected to last at least a month.
“When this trial begins, the situation will be long and difficult,” she said.
Ron O’Brien, the longtime Republican county attorney who lost the November election to Democrat Tyack, was handling the case with Deputy District Attorney James Lowe, who left office with O’Brien.
Tyack hired Bayer, a former Franklin County assistant attorney who also worked for the state attorney general and state auditor, with the idea that she would lead the prosecution against Husel.
“But she wasn’t coming until mid-January,” Grubb said. “and we needed someone with authority to take care of the matter and handle some things right away.”
Capezzuti, a holdover from O’Brien’s tenure, had helped in the Husel case, “and it’s a big enough case to swallow up three lawyers,” Grubb said.
Husel’s defense lawyers have filed a motion asking the judge to dismiss the entire case, which will go to a hearing in October. The hearing suspended Tyack’s further discussion of dismissing some of the charges against Husel because he “can only serve a certain number of life sentences.”
Although she was never a prosecutor before joining Tyack’s office, Grubb said she was “confident in us and our team. I feel good about our situation and what we need to present.”
‘I know a few things’
She had years of experience in criminal defense, including the first six years of her career as a public defender after graduating from Capital University Law School in 1976.
“But I had hardly practiced criminal law since I left the bench,” Grubb said. She has spent her post-judicial career primarily practicing family relations law.
Many of the office’s deputy prosecutors are too young “to know me or anything about my history,” she said. “They didn’t know if I knew about criminal law.
“I told them, ‘I know some things, and I know what I don’t know. Anything I do not know, I will ask or search. I will try to give you the best management, and I will rely on smarter or more educated people for as long as I need. ‘”
Grubb, who was born and raised in Pittsburgh, first came to Ohio to earn her undergraduate degree from Marietta College. She said she went to law school “to be a poverty lawyer, either with legal aid or as a public defender.”
She graduated from high school in 1968, a year of racial and political unrest linked to the Vietnam War and the assassinations of Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy.
“Like many of my generation, I wanted to go out and make a difference,” she said.
After his stint in the Franklin County Public Defender’s Office, Tyack hired Grubb to join his law firm as a defense attorney. They worked together for four years, including two as associates, before Tyack was appointed to a vacant position at the 10th Franklin County Court of Appeal by the government of the day. Richard Céleste in 1986.
Grubb was hired by Franklin County Family Relations Court to serve as an adjudicator, a position now known as Magistrate, which she held until 1991 when she ran and served. won his first of three terms as a county municipal court judge.
Cindi Morehart was a junior assistant lawyer in the City of Columbus when she was assigned to prosecutions in the Grubb courtroom in 1992.
“We became friends instantly,” said Morehart, now a Franklin County Municipal Court judge.
“She knows the law as well as anyone I know. She’s incredibly brilliant. And she’s fair, impartial and extremely ethical. She’s exactly the kind of lawyer and judge I wanted to be and I hope that I’m.”
Morehart was not in the least surprised to learn that Grubb had accepted the post with the DA’s office.
“She has more energy than anyone half her age,” Morehart said. “And she loves the law.”
Grubb said returning to a full-time job “never crossed my mind” before Tyack called.
“I thought I would paint, garden and hang out with Rob,” she said, referring to her husband, retired civil lawyer Robert Washburn.
She is also an only daughter who has to “be on call” for her 96-year-old mother, who still lives in Pittsburgh.
Grubb doesn’t know how long she will stay in the post of First Deputy District Attorney.
“Gary wants me to stay for his entire term,” she said. “I didn’t promise somehow. But I’m having a blast.”