January 14, 2009
A Conspicuous Violation
The Pennsylvania Court of Judicial Discipline has found that a Philadelphia municipal court judge has engaged in misconduct and ordered that a hearing be held to determine the appropriate discipline. The court found that the judge had been introduced to the Counsel General of Romania at an informal social event. The counsel general related concerns about a neighbor's contact with his daughter. The judge offered to help obtain a stay away order against the neighbor that he signed and had mailed to the neighbor. The order was not filed or made part of any official record. The neighbor hired counsel who questioned the propriety of the order. The lawyer and the neighbor appeared before the judge and had him sign an order vacating the stay away.
The court here found multiple violation of judicial canons in the course of conduct: "It is difficult to call up a more singular example of conduct which would be a more conspicuous violation of the letter and the intention of Canon 2A. At a social gathering a social acquaintance puts a whisper in Respondent's ear, whereupon [he] returns to his office, draws up a document--an official-looking Order which grants his friend all the relief he could possibly wish for--which he signs and has served on the named defendant." The judge also had engaged in ex parte contacts with the counsel general's lawyer (who was also the counsel general's spouse). (Mike Frisch)
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