Judge Sues Lawyer and 2 Clients Who Complained About Him

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An Ohio judge has sued a lawyer and two of the attorney’s clients for defamation, contending also that one of the clients and the attorney violated the terms of a confidential settlement agreement.

Both of the clients had previously accused Franklin County Environmental Court Judge Harland H. Hale of inappropriate behavior: Brenda Williams, 45, said Hale sexually harassed her and grabbed her breasts when she was a Spanish-language interpreter working at Franklin County Municipal Court. And Lynn Hamilton, 51, accused the judge of taking her out to a bar and making unwelcome sexual advances after she was arraigned in his courtroom in June in a drunken-driving case, the Columbus Dispatch reports.

In a civil suit filed Friday in Franklin County Common Pleas Court, the judge contended that Williams and the lawyer for both women, Michael G. Moore, had violated the terms of a confidential settlement related to Williams’ claims of sexual harassment by the judge. Williams, who was fired from her job as a court interpreter in November, filed a federal suit in December against Hale and other defendants, alleging a hostile environment that court officials covered up. In addition to sexual harassment, Williams, who is a Latina, complained of alleged racial slurs.

A low six-figure settlement concerning Hale, other judges and a court administrator ensued, although the litigation remains ongoing against the city of Columbus, the newspaper reports.

Attorney Rick Brunner represents Hale. He said the judge decided to sue after Moore wrote a letter to him last month, on behalf of Hamilton, threatening legal action if Hale didn’t step down from the bench, according to the Dispatch

Related coverage:

Columbus Dispatch (Dec. 2010): “Suit accuses municipal judge of harassment”

Columbus Dispatch (Feb. 2011): “Ex-intern adds to harassment allegations against judge”

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