Archive for the ‘Judge Disciplinary hearing’ Category

Top state court nixes agreed 6-month law-license loss for ex-judge, wants ‘more severe sanction’

November 21, 2013

An agreed six-month law-license suspension for an Ohio judge who dismissed a speeding ticket for his personal lawyer wasn’t sufficient punishment, the state’s top court said Friday.

It refused to accept the discipline-by-consent agreement between the now-retired jurist and the Board of Commissioners on Grievances and Discipline. Instead, the Ohio Supreme Court called for the board to consider “a more severe sanction” on remand, the Columbus Dispatch reports.

Former Franklin County Environmental Court Judge Harland Hale announced in May that he would be retiring from the bench, shortly after the disciplinary complaint was filed against him. He is accused of dismissing a speeding ticket for attorney Patrick M. Quinn, “without any involvement from the prosecutor or Quinn,” the discipline by consent agreement says, and falsely stating on a judgment order that a prosecutor had taken the action. Quinn had been representing Hale in sexual harassment matters.

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Top state court nixes agreed 6-month law-license loss for ex-judge, wants ‘more severe sanction’

See Also:
Ex-judge Hale agrees to six-month law license suspension

Ohio Judge Accused of Misconduct for Dismissing His Own Lawyer’s Speeding Ticket

Ohio: Judge Accused of Dismissing His Lawyer’s Traffic Ticket Quits

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Top state court nixes agreed 6-month law-license loss for ex-judge, wants ‘more severe sanction’

November 21, 2013

An agreed six-month law-license suspension for an Ohio judge who dismissed a speeding ticket for his personal lawyer wasn’t sufficient punishment, the state’s top court said Friday.

It refused to accept the discipline-by-consent agreement between the now-retired jurist and the Board of Commissioners on Grievances and Discipline. Instead, the Ohio Supreme Court called for the board to consider “a more severe sanction” on remand, the Columbus Dispatch reports.

Former Franklin County Environmental Court Judge Harland Hale announced in May that he would be retiring from the bench, shortly after the disciplinary complaint was filed against him. He is accused of dismissing a speeding ticket for attorney Patrick M. Quinn, “without any involvement from the prosecutor or Quinn,” the discipline by consent agreement says, and falsely stating on a judgment order that a prosecutor had taken the action. Quinn had been representing Hale in sexual harassment matters.

Full Article and Source:
Top state court nixes agreed 6-month law-license loss for ex-judge, wants ‘more severe sanction’

See Also:
Ex-judge Hale agrees to six-month law license suspension

Ohio Judge Accused of Misconduct for Dismissing His Own Lawyer’s Speeding Ticket

Ohio: Judge Accused of Dismissing His Lawyer’s Traffic Ticket Quits

Ex-judge Hale’s punishment not enough, Supreme Court says

November 17, 2013

A six-month suspension of former Franklin County Environmental Court Judge Harland Hale’s law license isn’t punishment enough, the Ohio Supreme Court declared today.

In an unusual move, the justices rejected the recommended punishment and sent the case back to the Board of Commissioners on Grievances and Discipline for further proceedings, “including consideration of a more severe sanction.”

Hale has admitted that he committed judicial misconduct by dismissing a speeding ticket in December 2011 for a lawyer who represented him in state and federal lawsuits. The judge, who sat on the bench for a decade, announced his retirement on May 9, one week after the disciplinary counsel filed a complaint against him. He said then he wanted to continue his career as a lawyer.

Hale had reached a “discipline by consent” agreement with the high court’s disciplinary counsel. The Board of Commissioners on Grievances and Discipline approved the agreement on Oct. 14 and recommended it to the Supreme Court.

Hale dismissed a speeding ticket for attorney Patrick M. Quinn, who was representing him in sexual-harassment lawsuits. The judge threw out the ticket “without any involvement from the prosecutor or Quinn” and signed a judgment that “falsely stated: Prosecutor dismisses,” the agreement says.

About four months later, he engaged in improper communication about the case by contacting Quinn and Chief City Prosecutor Lara Baker-Morrish. He asked each to sign an entry indicating that the ticket was dismissed “with the consent of the Columbus city attorney’s office and the defendant.” Baker-Morrish refused.

Hale eventually vacated the dismissal and removed himself from the case. Quinn pleaded guilty and paid a $55 fine and $116 in court costs on the day that the judge stepped aside.

Quinn represented Hale in three lawsuits stemming from complaints of inappropriate behavior against the judge by a court employee and a defendant in a drunken-driving case. All three cases were settled out of court.

Full Article and Source:
Ex-judge Hale’s punishment not enough, Supreme Court says

See Also:
Ex-judge Hale agrees to six-month law license suspension

Ohio Judge Accused of Misconduct for Dismissing His Own Lawyer’s Speeding Ticket

Ohio: Judge Accused of Dismissing His Lawyer’s Traffic Ticket Quits

Ex-judge Hale agrees to six-month law license suspension

October 29, 2013

Former Franklin County Environmental Court Judge Harland H. Hale will be suspended from practicing law for six months if the Ohio Supreme Court accepts an agreement he reached with the court’s disciplinary counsel.

The agreement includes an admission by Hale that he committed judicial misconduct by dismissing a speeding ticket in December 2011 for a lawyer who represented him in state and federal lawsuits.

Hale, who sat on the bench for a decade, announced his retirement on May 9, one week after the disciplinary counsel filed a complaint against him over the incident. He said at the time that he would continue his career as a lawyer.

Hale was scheduled for a September hearing before a three-member panel of the Board of Commissioners on Grievances and Discipline, but instead he reached what is known as a “discipline by consent” agreement with the disciplinary counsel.

The panel approved the agreement and recommended it to the full 28-member board. The board considered the agreement on Oct. 11 and recommended it to the Supreme Court.

The agreement and six-month suspension aren’t official without approval by the court. Joseph M. Caligiuri, chief assistant disciplinary counsel, said yesterday that there is no timetable for the court’s decision.

“It’s in a holding pattern now,” he said. “They can accept it or reject it. They can’t modify it.”
Lawyers facing a disciplinary hearing are always encouraged to reach an agreement with the disciplinary counsel, Caligiuri said.

“A minority of the cases result in a consent to discipline,” he said.

Hale and a Cincinnati lawyer who represented him in the case did not return messages yesterday.
The Dispatch reported in April 2012 that Hale had dismissed a speeding ticket in December 2011 for lawyer Patrick M. Quinn, who was representing him in lawsuits related to sexual-harassment complaints.

Hale dismissed the ticket “without any involvement from the prosecutor or Quinn” and signed a judgment that “falsely stated: Prosecutor dismisses,” according to the agreement.

Four months later, he engaged in improper communication regarding the case by separately contacting Quinn and Chief City Prosecutor Lara Baker-Morrish. He asked each to sign an entry indicating that the ticket was dismissed “with the consent of the Columbus city attorney’s office and the defendant.” Baker-Morrish refused.

Hale eventually vacated the dismissal and removed himself from the case. Quinn pleaded guilty and paid a $55 fine and $116 in court costs on the day that Hale withdrew.

Quinn represented Hale in three lawsuits that stemmed from complaints of inappropriate behavior against the judge by a court employee and a defendant in a drunken-driving case. All three cases eventually were settled out of court.

He is the first Franklin County judge to be named in a complaint by the disciplinary counsel since 2005, when then-Domestic Relations Judge Carole Squire was accused of abusing the rights of those who came before her and not following the law. She was defeated for re-election one year later, and the Supreme Court suspended her law license for one year in October 2007.

Full Article and Source:
Ex-judge Hale agrees to six-month law license suspension

See Also:
Ohio Judge Accused of Misconduct for Dismissing His Own Lawyer’s Speeding Ticket

Ohio: Judge Accused of Dismissing His Lawyer’s Traffic Ticket Quits

Cleveland Municipal Court Judge Angela Stokes says she will defend against court complaint recommending she undergo psych exam

October 28, 2013

Cleveland Municipal Judge Angela Stokes

Cleveland Municipal Court Judge Angela Stokes said she plans to defend herself against a recent complaint filed by the Ohio Supreme Court’s Office of Disciplinary Counsel that charges she abuses staff and defendants. The complaint also recommends she undergo a psychiatric exam.

“While the recent complaint filed before the Board of Commissioners on Grievances and Discipline of the Ohio Supreme Court contains allegations concerning alleged abuse, I am most troubled by the assertion that I may be suffering from a mental illness which interferes in my ability to serve as a judge,” said in a statement released exclusively to the Call & Post, the state’s largest black-owned newspaper. “I have never had mental health issues and will vigorously defend, in the appropriate forum, any suggestion along these lines.”

Stokes also complains about the Plain Dealer’s Monday editorial calling on her to step down.

“While the recent editorial of The Cleveland Plain Dealer cites Disciplinary Counsel’s Complaint against me as if it is fact; nothing could be farther from the truth,” she said. “I am in the process of formulating my defense with the assistance of counsel, and will indeed provide evidence which places the allegations in context.”

The 49-page complaint states that Stokes abuses court resources, abuses lawyers and court staff and defendants who appear before her. The Call & Post did not write a story examining the complaint.
The Plain Dealer has previously documented the same complaints about Stokes and written columns about her, including one that noted the Disciplinary Counsel was tracking her.

Full Article and Source:
Cleveland Municipal Court Judge Angela Stokes says she will defend against court complaint recommending she undergo psych exam

State Bar: Bill Belk violated conduct rules

August 26, 2013

RALEIGH The N.C. State Bar concluded Friday that former Mecklenburg District Judge Bill Belk violated rules of professional conduct while on the bench.

Belk was accused of lying during a 2009 investigation into possible misconduct. He appeared Friday before a hearing panel of the bar’s Disciplinary Hearing Commission.

Belk, the grandson of the Belk department store chain founder, said he was “disappointed” with the hearing panel’s decision.

Another hearing will be held on Sept. 26 to decide the appropriate discipline. The possible disciplinary actions include admonition, reprimand, censure, suspension and disbarment.

Belk, facing misconduct charges, resigned from the bench in November 2009. Five months later, the N.C. Supreme Court banned him from ever returning to the bench.

The case revolved around Belk remaining on the board of Sonic Automotive, one of the nation’s largest auto retailers, while serving as judge. Judges are prohibited from serving on business boards of directors to avoid conflicts of interest.

Read more here: http://www.charlotteobserver.com/2013/08/23/4257851/state-bar-bill-belk-violated-conduct.html#storylink=cpy

Full Article and Source:
State Bar: Bill Belk violated conduct rules

Read more here: http://www.charlotteobserver.com/2013/08/23/4257851/state-bar-bill-belk-violated-conduct.html#storylink=cpy

Discipline Hearing Against Judge to Proceed

August 22, 2013

LAS VEGAS — District Judge Kathleen Delaney denied Tuesday an effort by Judge Steven Jones to stop a disciplinary hearing against him, the I-Team has learned.

Jones was attempting to prevent a hearing by the Nevada Commission on Judicial Discipline regarding an alleged conflict of interest. Jones heard cases involving a prosecutor with whom he was maintaining a relationship in 2011. Jones denies allegations of misconduct.

Full Article and Source:
Discipline Hearing Against Judge to Proceed

Judge Jones tries to stop discipline hearing over alleged mishandled relationship

August 2, 2013

Longtime Family Court Judge Steven Jones,
third from left, declines to talk to the
 news media outside the
 Lloyd George Federal Courthouse
 in Las Vegas after pleading not guilty
 to a slew of felony charges in this Nov. 1, 2012,
file photo.

Embattled Family Court Judge Steven Jones is mounting an 11th-hour campaign to put off a hearing next week before the Nevada Commission on Judicial Discipline on allegations he mishandled a romantic relationship with a prosecutor who appeared before him.

The judge’s lawyer, Jim Jimmerson, has filed papers asking the Nevada Supreme Court to halt the proceeding, which is set to begin Monday.

Jimmerson also has filed suit against the judicial commission in District Court and is seeking a temporary restraining order to stop the panel from disciplining Jones. A hearing on the restraining order was set for 11 a.m. today before District Judge Michael Villani.

In a mass of court papers, Jimmerson contends the seven-member commission has blatantly violated Jones’ constitutional due process rights.

“Not only is the petitioner (Jones) worried about his own fate before a commission that, left unchecked, has so quickly and repeatedly abandoned the principles of due process, but he also is very fearful that without meaningful intervention from the court, no judge in the state of Nevada can be secure from the wrongful actions of the commission,” Jimmerson told the Supreme Court.

The commission has a “storied history” of violating the rights of judges it has investigated, Jimmerson added in his District Court papers.

In Jones’ case, Jimmerson said, the commission has “sullied itself” and “brought shame on the very institution the public relies upon to protect them from dangerous judges.”

Lawyers for the commission responded that the judge’s due process rights have been protected during the commission’s investigation and that his last-minute bid to derail the disciplinary proceeding is a ploy to avoid possible sanctions for his alleged misconduct.

Special Counsel Kathleen Paustian said a District Court order at this time blocking the hearing would “usurp the role of the commission” and “irreparably” damage public policy.

“The judge fails to address the fact there is also at stake the reputation of the judiciary and the public confidence in the judiciary as an institution,” Paustian wrote.

Jones, 54, who also is under federal indictment, is accused of violating Nevada’s Judicial Code of Conduct and faces possible sanctions ranging from a private reprimand to removal from office. He has been the subject of a more extensive commission investigation into other allegations of misconduct dating to 2006, but has not been charged.

The commission suspended the longtime judge in November after the federal indictment charged him with participating in a $3 million investment fraud scheme. Jones, who is to stand trial in the criminal case on March 3, has continued to receive his $200,000 annual salary.

The judicial discipline hearing, which could last most of next week, is being held at the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority on Paradise Road.

Jones, first elected to Family Court in 1992, has denied the latest allegations of wrongdoing, which were brought to light in a 2011 Las Vegas Review-Journal story.

According to a complaint filed by commission lawyers in December, former Deputy District Attorney Lisa Willardson “actively litigated cases” in the judge’s courtroom while she maintained a relationship with him in 2011. Jones failed to disqualify himself from those cases.

The State Bar of Nevada, which regulates lawyers, declined to formally discipline Willardson over the relationship.

The bar, however, sent Willardson a “letter of caution” that will remain in her professional file for three years.

“While the panel found no clear and convincing evidence that your developing romantic relationship with Judge Jones changed the result of any case, and found it hard to clearly define when your relationship with Judge Jones began,” the letter stated, “the public was left to speculate on what effect the relationship might have had in any matter, and public trust in the justice system was undermined.”

The letter of caution, made public this week by the Judicial Discipline Commission in its court papers, reminded Willardson that she did appear before Jones in an uncontested matter several days after she acknowledged in emails that she was dating him.

“We hope that the foregoing serves as a reminder of your ethical obligations and that no similar problems will arise in the future,” the letter concluded.

Willardson last month filed a federal lawsuit against the district attorney’s office seeking to clear her name and denying she and Jones saw each other socially while she appeared before him.

Former District Attorney David Roger asked the commission to investigate the relationship between Jones and Willardson, a deputy in the child welfare unit.

Roger, who has been subpoenaed to testify before the commission next week, removed Willardson from child abuse and neglect cases before Jones after the relationship became public in October 2011. Later, he fired Willardson.

Full Article and Source:
Judge Jones tries to stop discipline hearing over alleged mishandled relationship

Nevada conduct hearing delayed for Las Vegas judge

August 1, 2013

 

A disciplinary hearing is being postponed until at least mid-September for a Nevada judge accused of breaching ethics by presiding over cases involving a prosecutor with whom he had a romantic relationship.

 

Clark County Family Court Judge Steven Jones’ hearing before the state Commission on Judicial Discipline had been scheduled Monday in Las Vegas.

The Nevada Supreme Court on Friday ordered a delay to hear accusations by Jones’ attorney that the commission failed to follow investigatory rules.

Acting commission general counsel and executive director Brian Hutchins told the Las Vegas Sun  that it’ll be at least 45 days before another hearing can be scheduled.

Full Article and Source:
Nevada conduct hearing delayed for Las Vegas judge

Commission on Judicial Performance weighing whether to discipline Contra Costa judge

July 3, 2013

SAN FRANCISCO — The California Commission on Judicial Performance is deliberating whether to discipline Contra Costa County Superior Court Judge Bruce Mills for allegedly abusing his power in the handling of his minor son’s tobacco-possession case.
 

Mills, 55, is not facing removal from the bench but rather a public admonishment that would be his second such disciplinary action since he was appointed a judge in 1995.

The commission instituted formal proceedings against Mills in January over an off-the-record, in-chambers discussion about his son’s case that he had with a pro tem commissioner at the Walnut Creek courthouse in October 2011.

Such communications in uncontested, juvenile matters are not illegal for the average person, but a commission examiner argued Wednesday that Mills “took advantage of his position as a judge” and created an appearance of accepting preferential treatment when he accepted an invitation to discuss his son’s case without having gone through formal channels.

“We believe that a public admonishment would address the misconduct by Judge Mills in this matter,” commission examiner Gary Schons, told a panel consisting of judges, attorneys and members of the public.

Full Article and Source:
Commission on Judicial Performance weighing whether to discipline Contra Costa judge