The short answer to the question posed is "yes." But you should know by now that this blog does not deal in short answers.
Impeachment in Ohio is governed by two constitutional provisions. The mode of impeachment is set forth in § 2.23:
- The house of Representatives shall have the sole power of impeachment, but a majority of the members elected must concur therein. Impeachments shall be tried by the senate; and the senators, when sitting for that purpose, shall be upon oath or affirmation to do justice according to law and evidence. No person shall be convicted without the concurrence of two-thirds of the senators.
- The governor, judges, and all state officers, may be impeached for any misdemeanor in office; but judgment shall not extend further than removal from office, and disqualification to hold any office under the authority of this state. The party impeached, whether convicted or not, shall be liable to indictment, trial, and judgment, according to law.
How can that be? Welcome to an obscure little pocket of constitutional law called the political question doctrine. The U.S. Supreme Court treats some issues as political questions and therefore outside the Court's jurisdiction. The Court set out a multi-part test for political questions in Baker v. Carr, but the most important one you need to know about is that the matte is one fully committed by the Constitution to one of the other two branches. The theory regarding impeachment is that the constitutions, both state and Federal, explicitly commit the question of impeachment to the legislative branch.
The U.S. Supremes stated unequivocally in Nixon v. U.S. (ironically not about President Nixon who resigned before being impeached but a judge named Nixon who objected to being impeached) that even procedural questions about impeachment are beyond the Court's reach. The current Ohio Supreme Court is likely to follow suit. It's generally a conservative court at political question is a generally conservative doctrine. A number of members of the Court has also spoken fondly of the more general principle of justiciability, most notably in the various dissents and concurrences of the various DeRolph decisions.
Having said all of that, we hope that the Senate will proceed with some caution on this matter. The nightmare scenario is the House Republican caucus writing articles of impeachment with some sort of poison pill that makes Democrats hesitant to vote on them. The articles should include the full scope of Dann's misdeeds -- simply impeaching him for boffing a subordinate would be a bit out of bounds, for instance.
They should also include misdeeds inimical to good government. If, for example, Dann is found to have lied about Utovich spending the night,1 that by itself is an awfully thin reed. I believed during the Clinton impeachment and believe today that perjury to cover up an affair to avoid embarrassment, while bad and illegal, is not the sort of misdeed that should bring about impeachment. It's a closer call here since his affair is a key part of the porn-set-minus-wiling-females milieu that was the Dann Attorney General's office.
Still, one hopes that Dann will be impeached based on a stronger list of misdeeds.
1No small number of pixels have been burned on this question already, but here's how it would go. Dann stated in his first statement that he did not recall Utovich spending the night. Then he "amended" that statement later and stated that she did on occasion. Fine, but if the evidence shows that she spent the night routinely because they were sleeping together, his first statement that he didn't remember isn't simply a slip of memory, it's a lie.