Thursday, October 18, 2012

Judge's Diagnosis Lands Him In Trouble

From the web page of the Ohio Supreme Court:

The Supreme Court of Ohio today suspended  the law license of Massillon Municipal Court  Judge Edward J. Elum for six months,  with  the full term of suspension stayed, for violations of the Code of Judicial Conduct  and Rules of Professional Conduct in his handling of two cases.

In a 7-0 per curiam decision, the court adopted findings by the  Board of Commissioners on Grievances & Discipline that in one case Elum  improperly “interceded” in the case of a parole violator by asking probation  officers to take the defendant into his courtroom for a “probation review,” and  outside the presence of the defendant’s attorney or counsel for the prosecutor,  addressed the defendant using vulgar and intemperate language while other  members of the public were present. Elum  then unilaterally modified the terms of the defendant’s probation.

In the second case, the court agreed with findings by the  disciplinary board that Elum, who admitted that he had a history of conflicts  and disagreements with the Massillon Police Department and Police Chief Robert  Williams, improperly interjected himself into an internal police investigation  of misconduct by an officer who sent sexually explicit text messages, photos  and a video to a woman after citing her for traffic violations that were  prosecuted in Elum’s court.

When the state requested a second continuance of the woman’s  trial because of incomplete investigatory information, Elum issued an order  stating that the police department was “delaying the prosecution” of the case  and ordered the parties to provide the court with copies of the text messages  and photos that the arresting officer had sent to the defendant despite the  absence of a request by any party for the court to obtain or review that  material. Elum later threatened to hold contempt proceedings if the parties  failed to submit the requested material, and made statements in open court accusing  the police of “total neglect and disregard” and assuring the defendant that his  court “did not participate in any cover-up” of police misconduct.

The court adopted the board’s findings that Elum had engaged  in conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice, and had violated,  among others, the state judicial rules that require judges to be patient,  dignified and courteous to litigants, to act in a manner that promotes public  confidence in the judiciary, and to apply the law and perform judicial duties  fairly and impartially.

In light of Elum’s 35 years of law practice  without prior disciplinary infractions, lack of a selfish or dishonest motive,  full and free disclosure of his misconduct, cooperation with disciplinary  authorities, and evidence of his good reputation in the community, the court  adopted the board’s recommended sanction of a six-month suspension with all six  months stayed on condition of good conduct during that period.

The "vulgar and intemperate language" at the "probation review" is set forth in the opinion:

Cody, quit screwing up. Quit fucking up.

You have a bad case of D. H. Dickheaditis.

Your're screwing off. You can't keep continuing to screw off or you'll be like the rest of the dickheads at Stark County Jail.

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

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

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