Legal Ethics

Top Mo. Court Hears Case re Judge Whose Clerks Handled Her Call While She Vacationed in China

The Missouri Supreme Court is to hear arguments Thursday morning concerning a St. Louis judge who drew harsh criticism for reportedly having her clerks handle her call and deal with at least 350 cases while she vacationed in China.

The Commission on Retirement, Removal and Discipline has recommended that Associate Circuit Judge Barbara Peebles be removed from office, citing multiple alleged violations of ethics rules, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports. However, counsel for Peebles, who was suspended with pay in August, say removal would be too harsh a punishment.

Peebles admittedly spoke with a reporter about a pending case, which was one of the ethics charges against her. However, she contests at least some of the details concerning allegations that she was late taking the bench, turned over her docket to her clerks and destroyed a memo complaining about the way her clerks handled their duties while she was in China.

Her lawyers say Peebles’ clerks did not act in a judicial role while she was in China and simply continued cases. They also say she didn’t destroy the memo to cover up the complaint against her but acted because she thought it was inaccurate and confusing.

No judge has been removed from office in Missouri since 1993, the newspaper notes. Its article links to copies of the commission’s report (PDF) and Peebles’ response (PDF).

Earlier coverage: “Mo. Judge Who Had Clerks Handle Call While on Vacation in China Is Suspended with Pay From $109K Job”

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