Forger demands judge step down

By David Wright -

Shawn Ervin, right, is shown at a previous court hearing with attorney Lee Koogler, left.

Shawn Ervin, right, is shown at a previous court hearing with attorney Lee Koogler, left.

A Hillsboro man who unsuccessfully appealed his forgery conviction last year recently filed a motion for post-conviction relief in Highland County Common Pleas Court, demanding with sometimes colorful language that Judge Rocky Coss step down from the bench and that the FBI investigate all the judge’s previous cases.

It was Coss himself who made the decision on the filing since he presides over common pleas court. The judge denied the motion last week and dismissed the man’s claims as “simply the opinions of a defendant who is not pleased with the results in this case.”

The filer, Shawn Ervin, 44, Hillsboro, claimed that his fifth, sixth and 14th Amendment rights were violated during his prosecution and trial for forgery.

Among other accusations, Ervin said Coss would not allow a handwriting expert to testify in the trial, and Ervin included in the filing a forensic handwriting analysis of the signatures involved in the case. The judge said in his judgment entry that it appeared Ervin had authored the report himself and that handwriting analysis was not needed since the signatures involved were cut and pasted where they did not belong rather than redrawn.

Ervin multiple times called Coss a “hillbilly judge” and said that because he is from a larger city, he could get no fair trial in Highland County, citing a “deep rooted Republican Nazi mentality” espoused by “certain people,” which he claimed results in frequent guilty verdicts in Highland County.

Ervin also demanded that the FBI investigate Coss and all his previous cases.

The filing, which amounts to more than 50 pages of court documents, various reports, email exchanges and audio transcripts, was filed after the Fourth District Court of Appeals upheld Ervin’s conviction, according to court documents.

As previously reported, a jury convicted Ervin of forgery in November 2017 in a case Coss described at the time as “bizarre.”

Ervin was accused of submitting a fake court document to a Franklin County court in a custody case he had lost, requesting that the court accept a ruling in Ervin’s favor from a court in Leesburg. Multiple witnesses testified at trial that no such court exists.

Witnesses said the document contained the signature of Chris Runyon, whom the document described as a court official, and was notarized by his wife, Alyssa Teeters-Runyon, who works in the Highland County Clerk of Courts office.

While on the stand, Ervin testified that Chris Runyon, who was formerly his employer, had commiserated with him over the custody case and offered to help by writing and signing the court entry.

Runyon testified that he never signed the document or offered to help Ervin, and Teeters-Runyon said she never notarized such a document.

Both said they signed and notarized a lease agreement for Ervin to rent their garage. Highland County Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Jim Roeder argued that Ervin had copied the signature and notary stamp from the lease agreement and pasted it onto the court document.

Ervin and his wife, Jessica Van Ness, gave testimony that conflicted with Runyon and Teeters-Runyon’s statements regarding Runyon and Ervin’s relationship and the circumstances of the document’s creation.

Roeder said during his closing statement that much of the case centered around “who you believe,” and said Ervin was the only party who had a reason to be dishonest, since he had admitted to filing the document in the first place.

As previously reported, Ervin was sentenced to three years of community control sanctions in January 2018, and at his sentencing hearing, he claimed that state officials and other individuals had falsified documents.

At the time, Roeder said Ervin had filed a lawsuit against two people important to the case, demanding more than $400,000 in damages.

According to court records, that case was dismissed.

At the January hearing, Coss told Ervin he has “serious issues,” and said the defendant’s behavior and lack of remorse had been “ridiculous.”

“I understand maintaining your innocence, but… your whole theme, not only in this case, but in your PSI (Pre-Sentence Investigation) as well as adjudication, is basically that everyone you’ve ever dealt with is a liar, a falsifier,” Coss said. “I don’t know why you think you’re that important, because you’re really not. You’re not important. You’re just another guy.”

Reach David Wright at 937-402-2570.

Shawn Ervin, right, is shown at a previous court hearing with attorney Lee Koogler, left. Ervin, right, is shown at a previous court hearing with attorney Lee Koogler, left.

By David Wright