Sunday, October 14, 2018
The Ohio Supreme Court is being asked to issue a public reprimand to Mahoning County Probate Court Judge Robert Rusu for violating the rules of conduct established for members of the legal profession.
The Ohio Board of Professional Conduct is recommending the reprimand after deciding that Judge Rusu was in violation of a rule that mandates that he acts in a manner promoting public confidence in the independence, integrity, and impartiality of judges.
The recommendation came following a complaint filed with the Ohio Supreme Court alleging that after taking over as county Probate Judge, he presided over 185 cases in which he represented clients while he was still an attorney with the law firm of Lane & Rusu Company. After becoming a judge, Rusu sold his partnership interest in the law firm.
Judge Rusu's decisions in those cases including appointing fiduciaries, approving legal fees for his own work (or his previous law firm), approving guardian fees, settlements, addressing cases with delinquencies, approving magistrate decisions, and waiving guardianship matters.
In a previous statement, Judge Rusu explained that he handled more than 1,300 cases during his 23 years as a probate attorney and that some of those cases are still pending.
Rusu said that he believed that some of those cases he heard after being appointed as a judge in July 2014 were not matters of controversy and did not require him to disqualify himself from presiding over the case.
In its findings, the Board of Professional Conduct said that Rusu has accepted responsibility for his actions, has no prior disciplinary record, and was not motivated by selfishness or dishonesty.
Rusu was appointed to the Probate Court position in 2014 by Governor John Kasich, after the conviction of former Judge Mark Belinky.
Rusu was then elected that same year.