Ethics charges allege judge defied order to delay hearings and issued no-show warrants
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A Cleveland municipal judge is facing ethics charges after holding court hearings despite a rescheduling order because of the coronavirus pandemic, and then issuing arrest warrants for no-shows.
According to a Sept. 16 complaint, Judge Pinkey Carr falsely denied issuing the warrants in an interview with a Fox News 8 reporter and in a text to her presiding judge. Cleveland.com reports on the ethics charges, available here, while the Legal Profession Blog has highlights.
Carr made the alleged false statements after Cleveland.com reported on the hearings and warrants on March 17, according to the complaint. “That story was absolutely, number one, untrue,” Carr told Fox News 8.
“Not everyone watches the news, and I wanted to be here and have the hearings for those that showed up,” Carr said. “If they had a hearing and did not show up, I just marked they didn’t come,” she added, referencing the fact that she checked the “failure to appear” box in those instances. “I did not issue any warrants.”
Carr also told the presiding judge that Cleveland.com’s reporting was inaccurate. Carr said she noted when a defendant failed to appear in her journal entires but added, “No warrant to issue.” But none of the journal entries stated “No warrant to issue,” the complaint alleges. When the presiding judge learned the warrants had in fact been issued, she recalled them.
The ethics complaint also details alleged courtroom banter by Carr.
In one case, Carr said she was waiving a fine and costs, but the defendant had to pay his lawyer so he could get married this spring. “You don’t owe any money cuz you gotta pay for the wedding. OK?” she said.
Carr then addressed other defendants in the courtroom. “Don’t worry, I’ll waive yours, too. I can’t believe you people braved it coming down here,” she said.
In another case, Carr referred to a defendant’s history of theft convictions, tapped her watch several times and told the defendant’s lawyer, “And don’t forget, keep an eye on your watch, OK?”
When the defendant left the hearing, Carr told her staff she always teased that the lawyer should watch his watch because his client had “sticky fingers.”
In another case, Carr told her staff that a public defender who sought to reschedule court hearings for his clients was a “little idiot.”
In another instance, Carr’s bailiff informed her that her civil cases had been rescheduled. Carr allegedly told the bailiff to tell the scheduler “to get his ass back on that phone and put all my civil cases back on.”
The ethics complaint alleges violation of several ethics rules, including requirements that judges act in a way that promotes confidence in the judiciary, that they cooperate with other judges in the administration of court business, and that they refrain from conduct involving dishonesty.