Throwback Thursday

20 years ago this month:

  • The Delaware Supreme Court suspended for 3 months without pay and publicly censured a part-time judge for (1) failing to pay federal, state, and city payroll taxes for his law firm’s payroll and to timely file withholding reports; (2) failing to pay property taxes and to pay delinquent property taxes in accordance with a schedule he and the county had agreed upon; (3) having 29 unpaid parking tickets; and (4) failing to properly maintain his law office records and to correctly answer questions on the certificate of compliance with client account reconciliation requirements. In the Matter of Williams, 701 A.2d 825 (Delaware 1997).
  • Accepting the recommendation of the Commission on Judicial Qualifications, the Florida Supreme Court publicly reprimanded a judge for, as a candidate, (1) claiming to have circuit judicial experience, when her service was that of a general master; (2) claiming that her opponent had no circuit judicial experience, when she had extensive experience as a county judge who had been assigned to the circuit court; (3) injecting party politics into a non-partisan election by noting the party affiliation of the governor who had appointed her opponent as county judge; (4) including a photograph of her opponent sitting next to a criminal defendant, noting that her opponent “defend[ed] convicted mass murderer, cop killer, William Cruse,” when at the time of the photograph Cruse had not been convicted and her opponent was an assistant public defender; and (5) including a portion of a newspaper editorial implying that she, not her opponent, had been endorsed by the newspaper. Inquiry Concerning Alley, 699 So. 2d 1369 (Florida 1997).
  • The Mississippi Supreme Court suspended a judge for 30 days without pay, fined her $1,500, and publicly reprimanded her for (1) issuing an arrest warrant on petit larceny and simple assault charges filed by a friend and distant relative; (2) having license tags from her husband’s car on her car; (3) writing a check she did not have sufficient funds in her checking account to cover; and (4) failing to file with the circuit clerk reports of contributions or expenditures required by statute. Commission on Judicial Performance v. Franklin, 704 So. 2d 89 (Mississippi 1997).
  • Affirming the determination of the Commission on Judicial Discipline, the Nevada Supreme Court removed a judge from office for (1) borrowing money from court employees and not always promptly repaying the loans, forcing the employees to make oral and/or written demands for payment; (2) publicly endorsing and campaigning for a judicial candidate and testifying falsely to the Commission that he had only gone to houses where he knew the residents while going door-to-door campaigning for the candidate; (3) storing antiques throughout the courthouse, selling those antiques to persons with whom he came in contact at the courthouse, and directing city employees and jail trustees to move antiques into and out of the courthouse; (4) directing court employees during normal business hours to go to the nursery business owned by his mother to provide Spanish translating services and to perform other personal errands for him, including antique shopping; (5) directing or suggesting to persons appearing before the court who had been found guilty to contribute money to certain charities in lieu of paying fines to the city, diverting approximately $405,916 from the city treasury to his selected charities; and (6) using property he owned in part that was zoned for residential purposes for commercial purposes after been advised by the community planning department of the proper zoning for the property and causing his agents to trespass on adjoining property to hook up water and sewer lines. In the Matter of Davis, 946 P.2d 1033 (Nevada 1997).
  • Pursuant to an agreed statement of facts, the New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct censured a judge for a series of legal and procedural errors in a harassment case and making improper statements that compromised his impartiality and the proper administration of justice. In the Matter of Smith, Determination (New York Commission on Judicial Conduct October 29, 1997).
  • Accepting the findings and conclusions of the Board of Commissioners on Grievances and Discipline and adopting its recommendation, the Ohio Supreme Court publicly reprimanded a judge for appearing in a television commercial for a law firm. Office of Disciplinary Counsel v. Allen, 684 N.E.2d 31 (Ohio 1997).
  • Adopting the recommendation of the Judicial Investigation Commission, the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals publicly admonished a judge for discussing the reduction of DUI charges against a distance relative with the police officer, communicating ex parte with the relative and other family members about the case at least 3 times, creating the appearance that he had struck a deal to reduce the charge, and accepting gifts of china and an ashtray in appreciation for his assistance. In the Matter of Reese, 495 S.E.2d 548 (West Virginia 1997).

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