Misconduct finding is vacated against federal judge who refused mental health evaluation

  • Print.

Ohio flag and gavel

Image from Shutterstock.

A federal judicial ethics body has vacated a misconduct finding imposed against an Akron, Ohio, federal judge because he refused to submit to a mental health evaluation.

The judicial council of the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals at Cincinnati vacated the February 2016 misconduct finding against U.S. District Judge John R. Adams of the Northern District of Ohio in a March 18 order, report Reuters and Cleveland.com.

The judicial council also vacated its prior directive that Adams undergo the mental health evaluation.

The judicial council acted even though it had already dropped the requirement and withdrawn the misconduct complaint in a 2019 order. In his lawsuit challenging the judicial council order, Adams had argued on appeal that his case was not moot because he still suffered harm from a publicly available finding that he committed misconduct.

Adams dropped the appeal in his lawsuit March 23, just days after the judicial council vacated the misconduct finding and mental health directive, according to Reuters. Adams was represented by Judicial Watch, a conservative watchdog group.

“No other federal judge should ever have to go through what Judge Adams went through,” said Tom Fitton president of Judicial Watch, in a press release. “That the bureaucracy of the federal judiciary retreated from its abuse of him is a remarkable victory for the rule of law and our constitutional system.”

The judicial council had ordered the mental health exam in February 2016 because of Adams’ treatment of a magistrate judge who didn’t comply with Adams’ scheduling order in Social Security cases. Adams had required the magistrate judge in 2013 to show cause why he should not be held in contempt.

The judicial council had determined that the show cause order was the culmination of an increasingly strained relationship between Adams and his colleagues. The relationship problems began in 2008, when the court did not select Adams’ preferred candidate for a vacant magistrate judge position.

The judicial council’s 2016 order had also cited findings regarding two “troubling” incidents.

In one disputed incident, Adams was accused of bumping a magistrate judge on a running path near the courthouse and then sprinting away. In another, Adams reportedly blocked an intern’s car with his own when the intern inadvertently parked in Adams’ parking space.

Judicial Watch said Adams was concerned about the timeliness of magistrates’ decisions, and that is why he established scheduling deadlines and issued the show cause order. Adams later placed the order under seal after the magistrate said the missed deadline was due to a calendaring error.

Adams has also spoken out about what he thinks is wasted taxpayer dollars in the 6th Circuit, according to Judicial Watch. He questioned spending money on iPads for judges and other court staff and for travel expenses incurred by judges for attending ceremonial portrait unveilings of their colleagues, according to the group’s press release.

Give us feedback, share a story tip or update, or report an error.