Archive for the ‘Ohio’ 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.

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

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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

Gallia County judge receives stayed suspension for misconduct

November 21, 2013

GALLIPOLIS — Gallia County Common Pleas Court Judge D. Dean Evans has received a one-year stayed suspension from the Ohio Supreme Court for failing to disqualify himself from a case in which he had a conflict with defense counsel.

According to a release issued by the Office of Public Information of the Ohio Supreme Court, in a 5-2 per curium decision (not authored by any particular justice) announced Tuesday, the court rejected the sanction of a six-month stayed suspension that has been recommended by the Board of Commissioners on Grievances and Discipline and instead imposed a full year stayed suspension.

When contacted for comment on Tuesday afternoon in regard to the Supreme Court’s decision, Judge Evans reported that he could make no public comment on the case, but did state that the decision released on Tuesday would in no way affect the functioning of the Gallia County Common Pleas Court or the cases awaiting action in court.

Attorney Robert W. Bright practiced before Judge Evans representing indigent criminal defendants for the Gallia County public-defender commission. In the case that resulted in this disciplinary complaint, according information contained in the initial opinion released on Tuesday by the court, Bright represented a defendant who had initially agreed to enter into a plea agreement but later changed his mind during the plea hearing before Judge Evans. Moments later, the defendant changed his mind again, and Judge Evans refused to accept the plea. Three days later, Judge Evans again refused to accept the plea agreement even though Bright and the county prosecutor jointly agreed to it.

Bright then filed an 18-page motion requesting that Judge Evans accept the plea agreement and stating that the judge’s refusal to do so was “an abuse of discretion” and “unreasonable and/or arbitrary and/or unconscionable.” Bright also criticized some of Judge Evans’s other courtroom practices.

Judge Evans issued an entry overruling Bright’s motion and removing Bright as counsel in the matter. The entry stated in part:

The Court finds that while Defense Counsel’s attitude toward the Court as expressed in the instant motion may not rise to the level of Professional Misconduct or to the level of being contemptuous, it certainly is not acceptable behavior. By such conduct he has created conflict with the Court whereby in this case or for that matter any other case in the future, when he does not agree with a decision or ruling by the Court, instead of being critical by accusation of being arbitrary, unreasonable, unconscionable or of abusing discretion, he simply may accuse the court of being bias [sic] or prejudice [sic] as it relates to him. The Court must not only avoid any impropriety, bias or prejudice but must avoid any appearance of such. The expressions and attitudes of Defense Counsel as exhibited and announced in the instant motion toward this Court compromises [sic] the Court’s ability to avoid any appearance of bias [or] prejudice, or to be fair and impartial as it relates to Defense Counsel regardless [of] how hard it tries or what strides it makes toward guaranteeing that there would be no bias, prejudice and that it would be fair and impartial.

According to information provided in the Ohio Supreme Court decision, Judge Evans subsequently filed entries removing Bright as appointed counsel in 63 other criminal cases — even though none of the defendants in any case had requested Bright’s removal as their counsel. The entry in each case stated that “Attorney Robert W. Bright is relieved of further obligation due to the conflict he has created with the Court” and “due to the Court’s inquiry to the Office of Disciplinary Counsel, Supreme Court of Ohio regarding Mr. Bright’s conduct.”

Judge Evans’s actions removed Bright’s entire caseload, and, reportedly, within a month of the judge’s entries, the Gallia County public defender terminated Bright’s employment, reasoning that it had “no other options,” since Bright could not practice in Judge Evans’s courtroom. Disciplinary counsel ultimately decided against filing any charges against Bright based on Judge Evans’s grievance.

The Ohio State Bar Association subsequently brought a complaint against Judge Evans. The parties submitted a consent-to-discipline agreement recommending that Judge Evans be publicly reprimanded. The Board of Commissioners on Grievances and Discipline rejected the agreement and remanded the matter for further proceedings before a three-member panel of the board. On remand, the parties waived a hearing and submitted stipulations of fact and misconduct and jointly recommended a stayed six-month suspension. The panel, and later the board, adopted the parties’ stipulations and recommended sanction. No objections were filed before the Supreme Court.

Full Article and Source:
Gallia County judge receives stayed suspension for misconduct

Gallia County judge receives stayed suspension for misconduct

November 21, 2013

GALLIPOLIS — Gallia County Common Pleas Court Judge D. Dean Evans has received a one-year stayed suspension from the Ohio Supreme Court for failing to disqualify himself from a case in which he had a conflict with defense counsel.

According to a release issued by the Office of Public Information of the Ohio Supreme Court, in a 5-2 per curium decision (not authored by any particular justice) announced Tuesday, the court rejected the sanction of a six-month stayed suspension that has been recommended by the Board of Commissioners on Grievances and Discipline and instead imposed a full year stayed suspension.

When contacted for comment on Tuesday afternoon in regard to the Supreme Court’s decision, Judge Evans reported that he could make no public comment on the case, but did state that the decision released on Tuesday would in no way affect the functioning of the Gallia County Common Pleas Court or the cases awaiting action in court.

Attorney Robert W. Bright practiced before Judge Evans representing indigent criminal defendants for the Gallia County public-defender commission. In the case that resulted in this disciplinary complaint, according information contained in the initial opinion released on Tuesday by the court, Bright represented a defendant who had initially agreed to enter into a plea agreement but later changed his mind during the plea hearing before Judge Evans. Moments later, the defendant changed his mind again, and Judge Evans refused to accept the plea. Three days later, Judge Evans again refused to accept the plea agreement even though Bright and the county prosecutor jointly agreed to it.

Bright then filed an 18-page motion requesting that Judge Evans accept the plea agreement and stating that the judge’s refusal to do so was “an abuse of discretion” and “unreasonable and/or arbitrary and/or unconscionable.” Bright also criticized some of Judge Evans’s other courtroom practices.

Judge Evans issued an entry overruling Bright’s motion and removing Bright as counsel in the matter. The entry stated in part:

The Court finds that while Defense Counsel’s attitude toward the Court as expressed in the instant motion may not rise to the level of Professional Misconduct or to the level of being contemptuous, it certainly is not acceptable behavior. By such conduct he has created conflict with the Court whereby in this case or for that matter any other case in the future, when he does not agree with a decision or ruling by the Court, instead of being critical by accusation of being arbitrary, unreasonable, unconscionable or of abusing discretion, he simply may accuse the court of being bias [sic] or prejudice [sic] as it relates to him. The Court must not only avoid any impropriety, bias or prejudice but must avoid any appearance of such. The expressions and attitudes of Defense Counsel as exhibited and announced in the instant motion toward this Court compromises [sic] the Court’s ability to avoid any appearance of bias [or] prejudice, or to be fair and impartial as it relates to Defense Counsel regardless [of] how hard it tries or what strides it makes toward guaranteeing that there would be no bias, prejudice and that it would be fair and impartial.

According to information provided in the Ohio Supreme Court decision, Judge Evans subsequently filed entries removing Bright as appointed counsel in 63 other criminal cases — even though none of the defendants in any case had requested Bright’s removal as their counsel. The entry in each case stated that “Attorney Robert W. Bright is relieved of further obligation due to the conflict he has created with the Court” and “due to the Court’s inquiry to the Office of Disciplinary Counsel, Supreme Court of Ohio regarding Mr. Bright’s conduct.”

Judge Evans’s actions removed Bright’s entire caseload, and, reportedly, within a month of the judge’s entries, the Gallia County public defender terminated Bright’s employment, reasoning that it had “no other options,” since Bright could not practice in Judge Evans’s courtroom. Disciplinary counsel ultimately decided against filing any charges against Bright based on Judge Evans’s grievance.

The Ohio State Bar Association subsequently brought a complaint against Judge Evans. The parties submitted a consent-to-discipline agreement recommending that Judge Evans be publicly reprimanded. The Board of Commissioners on Grievances and Discipline rejected the agreement and remanded the matter for further proceedings before a three-member panel of the board. On remand, the parties waived a hearing and submitted stipulations of fact and misconduct and jointly recommended a stayed six-month suspension. The panel, and later the board, adopted the parties’ stipulations and recommended sanction. No objections were filed before the Supreme Court.

Full Article and Source:
Gallia County judge receives stayed suspension for misconduct

Tonight on T.S. Radio: Probate Court Fraud With Guest Judy Barnes

November 17, 2013

Ohio, a state rife with probate abuses and predatory guardians, has another case you just cannot believe took place.  Between stolen property, funds and fraudulent POA’s, an elderly woman with Alzheimer’s was robbed of a million dollar estate.

Her daughter fought back.  The result?  The family home, built by the family,  on valuable shorefront property was intentionally reduced to rubble.  Even with the known threats that this would happen if the daughter didn’t back off, the courts and law enforcement did nothing.

Just goes to show you what a crooked attorney and an immoral probate can accomplish when no one holds them accountable.

5:00 PST … 6:00 MST … 7:00 CST … 8:00 EST

LISTEN to the show live or listen to the archive later

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

Elderly at Risk and Haphazardly Protected

October 31, 2013

Workers found 82-year-old Vincenzina Pontoni submerged in a deep whirlpool bathtub. She had drowned. Pontoni, a resident of an assisted living facility near Cleveland, wasn’t supposed to be left alone; her care chart stated that facility workers were to stand by while she was bathing “for safety.” But records show she had been unsupervised for at least an hour that day in 2010, with deadly consequences.

State law in Ohio does not require assisted living facilities to alert regulators at the Ohio Department of Health when a resident dies under questionable circumstances, so administrators at Pontoni’s facility never did. While law enforcement did an investigation – ruling the death an accident – the people actually charged with safeguarding seniors in assisted living never so much as visited the facility in response to Pontoni’s death. Indeed, the Department of Health was unaware of how Pontoni died until notified by a reporter investigating assisted living for ProPublica and “Frontline.”

When asked about Pontoni’s death, and whether the Department of Health feared other care issues had been overlooked, Tessie Pollock, a department spokeswoman, said it did not appear that any regulation had been violated by the Cleveland facility. She encouraged the families of residents in the state’s assisted living facilities to be vigilant on behalf of their loved ones.

Ohio’s hands-off approach to regulating assisted living is hardly an aberration.

Over the past two decades, assisted living has undergone a profound transformation. What began as a grassroots movement aimed at creating a humane and innovative alternative to nursing homes has become a multibillion-dollar industry that houses some 750,000 American seniors. Assisted living facilities, at least initially, were meant to provide housing, meals and help to elderly people who could no longer live on their own.

But studies show that increasing numbers of assisted living residents are seriously ill and that many suffer from dementia. The workers entrusted with their care must manage complex medication regimens, safeguard those for whom even walking to the bathroom can be dangerous, and handle people so incapacitated they can be a threat to themselves or others.

Yet an examination by ProPublica and “Frontline” found that, in many states, regulations for assisted living lag far behind this reality.

Full Article and Source:
Elderly at Risk and Haphazardly Protected

See Also:
Life and Death in Assisted Living

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

Tonight on T.S. Radio: Ohio and Michigan – Another Toxic Guardianship

October 20, 2013

Marge Cook has been trying for seven years to gain guardianship of her now, 24 year old grandson.  Originally guardianized at 18, her grandson had suffered the abuse and molestation of his stepfather for years which was never addressed and a subsequent psychological shock.  Now, he is a prisoner in a residential home and his grandmother cannot see him, cannot contact him and doesn’t know for sure where he is even being held at this point.

Orignally held in Ohio, Marge was able to get her grandson transferred to Michigan where she resides.  Ohio had promised that if she took her grandson to Genessee Community Health, guardianship would be transferred to her.  Instead, her grandson was given to a professional fiduciary who immediately had him housed in a residential home owned by Eric McBean.

McBean had been previously cited for illegal imprisonment on his Mill Road Home.  He owns two others and whether Marge’s grandson is housed in one of these is uncertain.

Although Marge has petitioned repeatedly for guardianship of her grandson, Genesee County has refused to even recognize her efforts.  Marge has had to battle Judge Jennie E. Barkey, a judge who has been disqualified and over ruled in several other guardianship cases.

5:00 pm PST … 6:00 pm MST … 7:00 pm CST … 8:00 pm EST
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