Legal Ethics

Contempt Upheld for Ex-Lawyer Who Called Judge 'Delusional'

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Disbarred Ohio lawyer Elsebeth Baumgartner lost a 2006 suit accusing her of libel, and now she has lost the latest round in a battle over unsubstantiated allegations of persecution that she made against the judge hearing the case.

Baumgartner was held in contempt and required to serve 120 days in jail as a result of the allegations made in court filings against visiting judge Richard Markus, the Port Clinton News Herald reports.

On March 7, an Ohio appeals court upheld the contempt finding.

Markus had objected to 32 statements by Baumgartner, according to the appeals court’s opinion (PDF). One claimed the judge had made “misleading and false statements” leading “to the very strong appearance of his being bribed in this case.” Another accused him of being “delusional” and a third with “fabricating evidence.”

In yet another she wrote: “What more can this Christian woman expect from Judge Markus? Perhaps he intends to tie her up and torture her to death, all to be filmed of course for the viewing pleasure of his misogynistic master, [Ohio Supreme Court Chief Justice Thomas] Moyer.”

The appeals court said Baumgartner’s First Amendment objections to the contempt finding were without merit.

“We recognize that judges can be subjected to rude and insolent comments and behavior,” the opinion said. “We also recognize that judges must necessarily withstand this rudeness and insolence on occasion. A judge’s life is not for the meek. Having said that, we finally recognize that there is behavior so outrageous that it constitutes an attack on the legal system and is, therefore, contemptuous.”

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