"Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned."
William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet
Court calls Law profs' 17 year divorce fight appalling
By Kimball Perry
Monday, August 12, 2013
Sharlene Lassiter, now Sharlene Boltz.
(Malinda Hartong/The Inquirer
When they married in 1986, Christo and Sharlene
Lassiter vowed to create a marriage that would last in good times and bad.
Instead, the marriage lasted 10 years – seven years
less than their divorce-related legal battles. That fight has been so
acrimonious that it’s resulted in rare instances of judges sharply rebuking the
pair. One judge noted the ex-spouses are both law professors and, by their
actions in court, are teaching future lawyers how to ignore court rules and make
a mockery of the legal profession.
“I am really shocked, because when I was in law school
my professors were outstanding. They never would have told me that behaving the
way you all have, both of you, over the past 20 years, is acceptable behavior,”
Hamilton County Common Pleas Court Judge Leslie Ghiz told their attorneys in a
, 56, is a law professor at the
University of Cincinnati. Sharlene Lassiter,
52, who is remarried and now known as Sharlene
Boltz, is a law professor at Northern Kentucky University’s Chase College of
Law. The divorce lawsuit had an astounding 1,400-plus entries filed in it, at
least 1,000 more than a typical divorce file.
“Holy cow, that is extremely rare,” Loveland attorney
George Maley said of the 17 years of divorce and post-divorce suits between the
A typical divorce without children can be completed in
six to nine months, Maley said. One involving children, custody and visitation
can be completed in a year.
(Malinda Hartong/The Inquirer)
Not so for Lassiter and Boltz. The filings have
included Boltz calling the police to Lassiter’s workplace several times; both
having and then losing custody of their two children, now ages 20 and 17. It
also involves several complaints by judges presiding over the case that the law
professors, who they say should know the rules of the courts, repeatedly
violated those rules.
“(B)oth parties ought to be admonished by the State Bar
of Ohio. Both are law professors and officers of the Court. Each has a duty to
behave in a proper manner, particularly with regard to legal filings, and each
has more than pushed the envelope with regard to abusing the court system. It is
frightening to this Court that either is teaching current law students the
boundaries and ethics of our profession. Both should be thoroughly embarrassed
and ashamed of their behavior,” Ghiz wrote.
The case has grown so infamous that many area domestic
relations lawyers know the name of the couple just by hearing the facts of the
case. One attorney contacted by The Enquirer refused to be quoted, fearful he
would be sued by either of the pair.
Local domestic relations attorney Trista Portales
Goldberg called the case “highly unusual.”
“That’s a highly contentious, highly litigated case,”
she said. “You don’t see (large numbers of) entries like that.”
While the divorce itself was concluded after five
years, the ex-spouses have been involved in at least 28 other cases against each
other – including two that went to the Ohio Supreme Court, which declined to
In 2002, the Cincinnati-based Ohio 1st District Court
of Appeals wrote of its disgust with the couple’s legal war.
“This court has not seen many domestic relations cases
more contentious and acrimonious ... than this case. The parties, who are both
law professors and who ought to know better, engaged in thoroughly inappropriate
behavior that was detrimental to the resolution of their case and to the welfare
of their children for which both claimed to be primarily concerned,” judges
That was nine years ago.
Lassiter, though, was bothered that he has been
vilified when, he insists, his only goal was to be a good parent.
“There has been no spite. I wanted to father my
children,” Lassiter said. “I have not seen this as ego-driven. I have not seen
this as revenge-motivated.”
Lassiter blamed judges presiding over his cases for not
cracking down on what he said were improper activities by his ex-wife. He never
referred to her by name in an interview, calling her only “the other
I think there could have been and should have been better court management,” he
said of what he believes were judges allowing his ex-wife to manipulate the
court system to her benefit. “Had a court stepped in and resolved the major
issues cleanly and early, there would not have been voluminous (filings),” he
Boltz didn’t return calls or emails to her Chase
office. A magistrate wrote she showed “unrelenting hostility” toward Lassiter
and did what she could to make sure he had no relationship with their children.
“She has flatly refused to obey court orders,” a magistrate wrote just prior to
the divorce being final.
Lassiter had his UC paycheck garnisheed when he owed
$80,000 in unpaid child support. Boltz called the police on him several times
while he was at work, court documents show. He won custody of their two children
when Boltz moved to Kentucky. She won it back when Lassiter tried to enroll a
child in a Michigan boarding school after being ordered by a judge not to.
“Both parties have behaved in an appalling manner, and
both parties are harming their children,” the court of appeals wrote in
The fight isn’t over.
There are still three issues, Lassiter said, where he
is in court trying to get his ex-wife to pay him money he says she owes him. The
next hearing is September 6.