CLEVELAND (AP) — A judge accused of biting and punching his wife as they drove through a suburb with their young daughters in the backseat has been charged with felonious assault.
Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Judge Lance Mason was being held in Shaker Heights city jail. A judge ruled Monday that Mason could not post bond until after he has undergone a psychiatric evaluation because of threats to harm himself before his arrest in Cleveland on Saturday.
Mason’s wife, Aisha Mason, can be heard in a 911 recording telling a Shaker Heights police dispatcher: “My husband just beat me and threw me out of the car.” She also said that Mason drove off with their two daughters and she was afraid he would hurt them.
While the dispatcher gathered details from Aisha Mason, she asked repeatedly if police had found the vehicle and her two girls.
Paramedics took Aisha Mason to a nearby hospital, where she was treated for injuries that included a broken orbital bone along with cuts and bite marks to her face, a court document said.
A 911 caller told a dispatcher that she saw punches being thrown inside a small sport utility vehicle as it weaved through traffic and nearly hit several cars.
Lance Mason is a Democrat who was appointed to the Common Pleas bench in 2008 and elected to a full, six-year term in 2010. Before becoming a judge, he was an assistant county prosecutor, an aide to the late U.S. Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones, a private attorney, a state representative and a state senator.
His attorney, Fernando Mack, did not return telephone calls on Monday.
Mason, 46, and his wife, 41, separated in March, a Shaker Heights city prosecutor said. During a videoconference appearance at Monday’s court hearing, Mason told Municipal Judge K.J. Montgomery that he and his wife shared custody of their children. The municipal judge issued a protective order that forbids Mason from having contact with his wife and daughters.
Mason was arrested at his Cleveland home about a half-hour after the incident. His sister had called Cleveland police because she feared he would hurt himself.
Cleveland police said they confiscated a large amount of ammunition, three handguns, two assault rifles, two shotguns, a canister of pepper spray and four canisters of smoke grenades.
Common Pleas Court administrator Greg Popovich said on Monday that Mason remains a sitting judge and can’t be disqualified from hearing cases unless he is indicted on a felony charge. Other judges will handle Mason’s caseload while he is unavailable, Popovich said.