Monday, February 27, 2012

Judge Charged With Misconduct Involving Citation Against Son

From The Sentinel on February 15 (www.cumberlink.com):

A district judge in suburban Philadelphia was charged Wednesday with telling her staff not to docket a harassment citation against her adult son and lied to court officials investigating the matter.

The Judicial Conduct Board's misconduct allegations against Downingtown District Judge Rita A. Arnold could, if upheld, result in her suspension or removal from office.

The board, which pursues ethics cases before the Court of Judicial Discipline, also alleged that Arnold improperly transferred the citation against Forrest C. Solomon Jr. to another district judge and told a member of her staff to lie to investigators.

Neither Arnold nor her lawyer, Dawson R. Muth, immediately returned telephone messages seeking comment.

The board said Solomon, who lived with Arnold, was being supervised by the Chester County adult probation office in January 2010 when he failed a drug screen, and 13 days later was cited by a state trooper with summary harassment for an altercation inside the home with his half brother.

The board claims Arnold later told her office manager to ``hold onto'' the citation, and it was not docketed until April. The board claims Arnold did not follow normal protocol when she transferred the case to another district judge in Chester County.

A county court administration worker later recognized Solomon's name, realized he was Arnold's son, and noted what the board said were ``several irregularities during case processing'' of the citation.

Arnold later submitted a written report to the president judge denying she intended to do anything wrong, or obtain favorable treatment for her son, the board complaint said.

The Judicial Conduct Board, which began to investigate after being contacted by the president judge, said Arnold's office manager told investigators that Arnold told her to lie about how the citation was handled.

Arnold was charged with violating ethical rules for district judges as well as provisions of the state constitution.

(Mike Frisch)

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