Thursday, October 7, 2010

"Amber Alert" Sanction

The web page of the Ohio Supreme Court reports:

The Supreme Court of Ohio today imposed a six-month suspension, with the full term of suspension stayed on conditions, against the law license of [a] Judge...of the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas based on his actions and statements in a 2007 criminal case before his court.  

In a 4-2 per curiam decision, the Court adopted findings by the Board of Commissioners on Grievances & Discipline that [the judge] improperly attempted to initiate an “Amber Alert” for two witnesses who had failed to appear for the defendant’s scheduled trial, and made improper public statements in court and during an in-chambers meeting with the news media in which he asserted his belief that the defendant had intimidated or interfered with the missing witnesses when there was no factual evidence in the record to support those assertions. The Court agreed with the disciplinary board’s conclusions that [his] actions constituted conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice, manifested bias against the defendant, and called into question his own impartiality and the fairness and impartiality of the judicial process.

The Court’s majority opinion was joined by Justices Paul E. Pfeifer, Evelyn Lundberg Stratton, Terrence O’Donnell and Robert R. Cupp. Justices Maureen O’Connor and Judith Ann Lanzinger dissented, stating that they would impose a stayed one-year license suspension as the appropriate sanction for [the] misconduct.

Chief Justice Eric Brown did not participate in the court’s deliberations or decision in this case.

The underlying case involved the failure of an 83 year old witness to appear at a criminal trial. The judge was concernined about possible obstruction of justice.

The court's opinion is linked here. (Mike Frisch)

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

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