Judge is suspended for ogling litigant and losing temper in 'attorneys are stupid' tirade
An Ohio magistrate judge accused of ogling a litigant and declaring that attorneys are stupid will be suspended from law practice for two years as a result of action by the Ohio Supreme Court.
The judge, Stephen Edwin Weithman, will be suspended as a result of an Aug. 7 order (PDF) by the Ohio Supreme Court finding that he failed to comply with a February 2015 decision (PDF) imposing a stayed suspension. The Legal Profession Blog links to the relevant documents and has highlights from court documents.
The suspension was originally stayed as long as Weithman committed no further misconduct, and he complied with a treatment plan to control his anger. The Ohio Supreme Court did not specify what Weithman had done that failed to comply with the order.
Weithman’s suspension stems from alleged conduct in two cases.
One of the cases involved allegations that a woman’s former husband distributed nude pictures of her over the Internet. During a status conference, Weithman “mockingly imitated the voice of the wife’s attorney,” the opinion said, citing stipulations and findings by a discipline board. After the hearing, Weithman walked into the hallway and “slowly ogled” the wife. He later told the wife’s lawyer that she needed to provide him with intimate pictures of the husband’s girlfriend also alleged to have been published on the Internet—pictures, Weithman testified, that were relevant to the proceeding.
At a discovery hearing, Weithman lost his temper and told the husband’s lawyer to “comply with discovery and shut up once in a while. … All Franklin County attorneys are stupid.”
During another hearing, the husband’s lawyer threw paper clips at Weithman, but he did nothing to stop it, the court said. Before cross-examination of the wife, Weithman “jokingly told the husband’s counsel that he would give him a dollar if he could make the wife cry on the stand and simultaneously removed a dollar bill from his wallet and placed it on the bench,” the opinion said.
In the second case, Weithman began to yell when he was advised divorce litigants could not reach an agreement on child-support issues. “I don’t know what it is with the Franklin County attorneys,” he said, adding that “you won’t get a decision on this until the divorce is tried and I’ll continue this divorce for two more years.”
As Weithman left the courtroom he shouted that the husband “makes $150,000 per year, and he’s trying to get out of paying six weeks of support!”
The state supreme court cited several mitigating factors in the ethics case. He had demonstrated good character aside from the misconduct, he displayed a cooperative attitude, and he had no previous discipline. The court also said Weithman had been diagnosed with a probable mood disorder, though Weithman hadn’t raised the issue.