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Legal Ethics

Judge faces discipline case for dismissing lawyer’s speeding ticket

Posted May 3, 2013 1:39 PM CDT
By Martha Neil

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Disciplinary counsel for the Ohio Supreme Court is seeking to sanction a Franklin County Municipal Court judge for dismissing a lawyer's speeding ticket.

Attorney Patrick M. Quinn had been ticketed in November 2011 for doing 81 mph in a 65-mph zone. Judge Harland H. Hale, who was being represented by Quinn in lawsuits related to sexual-harassment complaints, dismissed the speeding ticket “without any involvement from the prosecutor or Quinn,” says a disciplinary filed this week, and signed a judgment which "falsely stated: Prosecutor dismisses,” the Columbus Dispatch reports.

Subsequently, Hale vacated the dismissal of the ticket, which had taken place without a hearing, and removed himself from the case, the article continues. The same day, Quinn pleaded guilty, and paid a $55 fine and $116 in court costs.

Hale declined to comment on the complaint, which alleges that his conduct violated an ethical rule requiring judges to act in a manner that "promotes public confidence in the independence, integrity and impartiality of the judiciary" and that he also violated a rule that prohibits ex parte communications with those involved in a case when all parties are not present.

Specifically, the judge allegedly sent an April 10, 2012 email to Quinn and left an April 10, 2012 voicemail for the chief prosecutor concerning a document to be delivered by a staff member. It showed that the ticket was dismissed "with the consent of the Columbus city attorney’s office and the defendant,” the newspaper reports. Chief prosecutor Lara Baker-Morrish declined to sign.

See also:

ABAJournal.com: "Judge Sues Lawyer and 2 Clients Who Complained About Him"

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