Clinton County Judge Daugherty passes


Active in community, from Santa to Scouts

News Journal staff



Mike Daugherty each year graciously spent time at the News Journal making dozens of kids happy, not only listening to their gift requests, but having in-depth conversations while joking with them.

Mike Daugherty each year graciously spent time at the News Journal making dozens of kids happy, not only listening to their gift requests, but having in-depth conversations while joking with them.


Mike Daugherty annually played Santa during the HoliDazzle Parade through Wilmington.


Mike Daugherty at a Leadership Clinton Dinner in the Fields fundraiser.


Judge Michael T. Daugherty.


WILMINGTON — A local judge and beloved member of the community has passed away unexpectedly.

Judge Michael T. Daugherty, 53, died at his residence early Thursday morning.

Judge Daugherty served as the Clinton County Municipal Court Judge since the summer of 2015.

City of Wilmington Safety Director Brian Shidaker and Municipal Court Chief Bailiff Brian Kratzer announced the news Thursday morning. In a statement, they said, “Judge Daugherty served faithfully with great professionalism and dedication when he was first appointed and then after being elected. He truly viewed his job as a mission to help others.”

Judge Daugherty was appointed to his role by then-Governor John Kasich and assumed office on July 7, 2015. He was subsequently elected that fall, being sworn in on January 1, 2016.

Clinton County Common Pleas Judge John W. “Tim” Rudduck said he had known Daugherty since Mike was a young attorney in town just starting out, and watched with great admiration “as he’s grown as an attorney, as a man, and as a judge.”

At the Sept. 2 meeting of the Clinton County Bar Association, Daugherty was so happy and talking about playing Santa Claus again later this year, Rudduck recalls.

“He was in my view really the People’s Judge. The people loved him; he was the right fit for this community, and well-respected throughout the state,” said Judge Rudduck.

Daugherty was planning to go next week to a judicial conference in Columbus, thinks Rudduck, adding that’s where Daugherty would play a guitar with an Ohio Supreme Court justice and “a little group that they play in.”

The Common Pleas Court judge said of the stunning news of Daugherty’s death, “The only solace I take is I know Mike is a man of faith, and I guess God needed Santa Claus is all I can say.”

Municipal Court Clerk Sarah Avey mentioned that Judge Daugherty was a great combination of office jokester and city servant.

“Judge Mike loved playing Santa Claus — seeing the children happy just made his day,” said Avey.

Local attorney Mack Fife, who also served alongside Daugherty on the Boy Scouts District Committee in Springfield, called the passing a tremendous loss for the courts and the Scouts.

“He was a great leader, a person to be admired, and a personal friend,” said Fife.

City of Wilmington Director of Law Brett W. Rudduck feels that Judge Daugherty was a perfect embodiment of Clinton County.

Daugherty had a gruff and folksy exterior coupled with an absolute heart of gold, remarked Brett Rudduck. The judge also had a uniquely sharp legal mind, he added.

On a personal note, Brett said he’s indebted to Daugherty and the Daugherty Family. He revealed that more than once he literally came to Daugherty in tears “only to have him reassure me.”

Ever since Daugherty was appointed judge in 2015, he took Rudduck under his wing and was a mentor, said the director of law.

“I am truly devastated,” Brett Rudduck said. “I am praying for his wonderful family who I know he loved and absolutely adored.”

Clinton County Juvenile and Probate Judge Chad L. Carey said Thursday he was shocked by the news and feels so terribly bad for the family, friends and Municipal Court staff.

Mike did a great job as a judge and was a good friend, Carey said. He added that Daugherty had a strong work ethic and will be sorely missed.

Chief Bailiff Brian Kratzer, who was a longtime friend, shared that “Judge Mike” focused on delivering fair and equal justice, but he cared more about helping those who appeared before him.

“His heart was always focused on making people and our city better,” added Kratzer.

Wilmington Mayor John Stanforth said, “Judge Mike will be difficult to replace. He was a good and decent man who always placed those he worked with first as well as those he served.”

Clinton County Republican Party Chairman Terry Habermehl said, “We are all shocked and saddened by Mike’s passing. He was a larger than life character who truly loved our community. His loss will affect the entire county. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family.”

Daugherty graduated from Wilmington College, and earned his Juris Doctorate from the University of Dayton.

Judge Daugherty is survived by his wife Wendy and family. Service details are to be determined.

Clinton County Municipal Court, which is located in the Wilmington Municipal Building, will be closed until further notice. Any questions can be directed to Brian Kratzer at [email protected] or Sarah Avey at [email protected]

Check the court’s website www.clintonmunicourt.org for further details.

Mike Daugherty each year graciously spent time at the News Journal making dozens of kids happy, not only listening to their gift requests, but having in-depth conversations while joking with them.
https://www.wnewsj.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/22/2022/09/web1_Colton-and-Layla-1.jpgMike Daugherty each year graciously spent time at the News Journal making dozens of kids happy, not only listening to their gift requests, but having in-depth conversations while joking with them.

Mike Daugherty annually played Santa during the HoliDazzle Parade through Wilmington.
https://www.wnewsj.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/22/2022/09/web1_DSC_0114-1.jpgMike Daugherty annually played Santa during the HoliDazzle Parade through Wilmington.

Mike Daugherty at a Leadership Clinton Dinner in the Fields fundraiser.
https://www.wnewsj.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/22/2022/09/web1_mike-lci-1.jpgMike Daugherty at a Leadership Clinton Dinner in the Fields fundraiser.

Judge Michael T. Daugherty.
https://www.wnewsj.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/22/2022/09/web1_daughertypic-4.jpgJudge Michael T. Daugherty.
Active in community, from Santa to Scouts

News Journal staff