Legal Ethics

After Web Post About Serial Murder Case, Judge Should Step Down, Lawyer Says


An Ohio judge who has been linked to an anonymous post on a local newspaper’s web page about a serial murder defendant in a case she is overseeing should recuse herself, the defendant’s lawyer says.

Attorney Rufus Sims filed a motion Friday seeking the recusal of Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Judge Shirley Strickland Saffold in an unrelated criminal case. And, after news that the judge’s personal e-mail account and/or court computer has been linked to anonymous Internet comments about both Sims and his client Anthony Sowell, Sims tells the Cleveland Plain Dealer he intends to ask Saffold to recuse herself henceforward not only in Sowell’s serial murder case but in every case pending in her courtroom involving Sims.

“She is not fit to hear any case that I am involved with,” Sims told the newspaper Friday afternoon after filing the recusal motion.

“I am through with her, finished forever. She can never be involved in another case of mine.”

As detailed in an earlier ABAJournal.com post, one of some 80 “Lawmiss” e-mails linked to Saffold’s e-mail account and/or court computer reportedly made reference to Sims’ “Amos and Andy style mouth.”

The judge has denied that she had anything to do with the e-mails, and her 23-year-old daughter has taken responsibility for some of them.

Additional and related coverage:

ABAJournal.com: “‘Lawmiss’ Comment on Accused Serial Killer Is Linked to Judge Overseeing His Case”

Plain Dealer: “Web site posters’ anonymity an invitation to mischief”

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