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Coroner appeals ruling on Goldson investigation

By Wayne Gates –

Brown County Coroner Dr. Judith Varnau is appealing the ruling that she may not investigate the death of Zachary Goldson any further and must personally pay almost $10,000 in attorneys fees and court costs.
Brown County Common Pleas Judge Scott Gusweiler made that ruling on Sept. 8.
Gusweiler also prohibited Varnau from changing her ruling on Goldson’s mode, manner and cause of death.
A notice of appeal was filed with the Ohio 12th District Court of Appeals on Sept. 12.
Gusweiler issued a stay of his ruling pending the appeal on Sept. 14, writing that “The temporary orders issued by this court during the pendency of the case remain in full force and effect.”
Those temporary orders include prohibiting Varnau from conducting any further investigation into Goldson’s death.
The case will be proceeding on the regular calendar of the appeals court, which means that a ruling is not expected until Spring or even Summer of 2017.
Dr. Varnau did not file for re-election for office and will leave her position on January 1.
Gusweiler’s ruling comes after a nearly two year battle with current and former members of the Brown County Sheriff’s Office over Goldson’s death.
Goldson died in custody on October of 2013.  He was found hanging in his cell.   Varnau ruled the death a homicide in December of 2013.
After a lengthy investigation, the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation concluded that  Goldson’s death a suicide in December of 2014.
A Brown County Grand Jury did not indict anyone in connection with Goldson’s death.
In January of 2015, five current and former members of the Brown County Sheriff’s Office filed a motion for a preliminary injunction  to prevent Varnau from opening a coroner’s inquest into Goldson’s death.
That request was granted, along with a ruling by Gusweiler in April of 2015 that the coroner may not continue her investigation pending a final decision. A hearing on the matter was held in March of this year, with Gusweiler ruling on the case on Sept. 8.

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