Thursday, February 25, 2010

Stayed Suspension For Judge's Two Physical Altercations

The web page of the Ohio Supreme Court reports:

The Supreme Court of Ohio today imposed a one-year license suspension against [a] Cuyahoga County Juvenile Court Judge...with the full term of suspension stayed on conditions, for violations of the Code of Judicial Conduct arising from two separate incidents in which [he] was convicted of disorderly conduct as a result of physical altercations with a girlfriend.

In today’s 7-0 decision, the Court adopted findings by the Board of Commissioners on Grievances & Discipline that [his] conduct was in violation of ethical canons that require a judge to uphold the integrity and independence of the judiciary, to avoid impropriety and the appearance of impropriety in all of his activities, and to respect and comply with the law and act at all times in a manner that promotes public confidence in the judiciary.

In its per curiam opinion, the Court noted that [he] admitted the charged misconduct and stipulated that a dependency on alcohol was a significant factor in the incidents that resulted in his criminal convictions. 

While the disciplinary board recommended a conditionally stayed six-month suspension based on [his] successful completion of a two-year recovery contract with the Ohio Lawyers Assistance Program (OLAP) and other mitigating factors, the Court wrote:  “We accept the board’s findings with respect to aggravation and mitigation; however, a sanction more rigorous than the board’s recommendation is required for the harm caused by respondent’s improprieties. We therefore order that respondent be suspended from the practice of law in Ohio for one year. The suspension is stayed, however, on the conditions that respondent complete a two-year probation in accordance with Gov.Bar R. V(9), fully comply with the terms of his current OLAP contract, completely refrain from the use of alcohol, and commit no further violations of either the Code of Judicial Conduct or the Rules of Professional Conduct. If respondent fails to comply with the conditions of this stay, the stay will be lifted, and he will be suspended from practice for one year.”

The court's opinion is linked here. The first incident involved an argument that started in a car after dinner and drinks. The argument escalated at a gas station and led to the arrest of both the judge and girlfriend on disorderly conduct intoxication charges. The second incident took place about ten months later in their condo. (Mike Frisch)

Bar Discipline & Process, Judicial Ethics and the Courts | Permalink

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