Friday, February 10, 2023

Bully Pulpit

The Akron Beacon Journal reported on a recent proposed two-year suspension of a judge from the Ohio Board on Professional Conduct.

The Board further recommends he be suspended from judicial office.

The report says Hoover "engaged in misconduct totaling 64 violations that impacted the liberty and due process rights of 16 unrepresented defendants who were economically disadvantage and, in some cases suffering from mental disorders and/or substance abuse."

The board's 58-page fact-finding report also concluded that Hoover "displayed an unwillingness to acknowledge his misconduct and the harm caused by his actions."

The report includes an in-court exchange between Hoover and an individual who had failed to complete payment of a fine and court costs. The person spent seven days in jail, with a credit of $50 for each day.

But the jailed man was subject to only two days in jail based on the amount of the fine, the finding concludes. In the exchange, the man expresses concern that spending time in jail will affect his employment.

"Yeah. It probably will," Hoover says. "That's the problem with screwin' with me."

In another example, the finding determines Hoover was "demeaning and sarcastic" to a person who had unpaid fines. In another, he calls someone in court a "deadbeat."

In addition to its recommendations for disciplinary action, the finding notes positive aspects of Hoover's tenure as judge in the municipal court.

"Based on the evidence presented at the hearing in this matter, there is no question that Respondent has done great things for the Stow Municipal Court, many defendants, and the community," it states. "However, 'good intentions do not excuse him from complying with the Code of Judicial Conduct.' "

Tom Bevan, a founding of the Bevan & Associates law firm and chairman of the Summit County Democratic Party, said the findings did not surprise him.

"We did run somebody against him last time because we had heard (about) his conduct," Bevan said Saturday.

Bevan said the conduct described in the report "should never be tolerated from a judge — ever."

"I'm deeply disappointed that a judge would act in this manner," he said. "He was being a bully."

Hoover's attorneys said they plan to file an objection.

The disciplinary recommendations now go to the Ohio Supreme Court, which will consider action against Hoover — who will be given an opportunity to file an objection to the findings.

Throughout the proceedings, Hoover has maintained that he did not act improperly in his handling of the defendants mentioned in the complaint.

(Mike Frisch)

Judicial Ethics and the Courts | Permalink


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