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No Ethics Rap for Judge Who Handed Out Condom-Filled Acorns

Posted Aug 19, 2011 5:20 AM CDT
By Martha Neil

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Updated: A Pennsylvania magisterial judge who handed out condom-stuffed acorns to two women he encountered near the site of a continuing education class he was attending will not be disciplined for doing so.

Although the Court of Judicial Discipline said it strongly disapproved of the conduct by District Judge Isaac Stoltzfus and cautioned that it must not be repeated, it dismissed a legal ethics case against him, reports the Lancaster New Era.

"We are sore pressed to understand why the [Judicial Conduct] Board persists in bringing charges against magisterial district judges ... in cases where the offending conduct was obviously not part of the 'decision-making process,' " the court said in a Wednesday opinion.

Saying that condoms are distributed to children by the government, it found that the board had not met its burden of providing by clear and convincing evidence that the judge's conduct "was so extreme as to bring the judicial office itself into disrepute." The court reached the same conclusion concerning an allegation that by handing out the items Stoltzfus had damaged public confidence in the judiciary.

A criminal charge initially brought against Stoltzfus was dismissed, although prosecutors called the acorn incident "bizarre." He said he had never handed out condom-stuffed acorns in court, the Wednesday ruling notes.

Additional coverage:

ABAJournal.com: "Judge Fighting Ethics Charges Admits Handing Out Condom-Stuffed Acorns in Court"

Updated at 10:45 a.m. to correct a link.

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