Legal Ethics

Phila. Judge Booted from Bench Over 24-Year-Old Use of Bogus SS#

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A Philadelphia municipal judge can no longer serve on the bench because she pleaded guilty to two federal felony counts related to her use of a bogus social security number on credit applications 24 years ago, Pennsylvania’s highest court has ruled.

Deborah Griffin is banned from being a judge by a Pennsylvania constitutional provision that bars those convicted of an “infamous crime” from holding public office, the court explains in a written opinion (PDF) filed today. Her felony convictions fall within that provision, which is contained in Article II, Section 7 of the state constitution, and covers both felonies and crimes that involve falsehoods, the court states in its unanimous ruling.

Griffin was sentenced to three years of probation and ordered to pay about $1,200 in restitution in the long-ago felony case.

As discussed in an earlier post, Griffin has been on the municipal court bench since 2002. She had not disclosed her conviction on her bar application, and was disciplined in for not doing so. However, she believed she was not required to disclose it because her record had been expunged.

Supporters say she has done well, considering her background. Griffin grew up in a Harlem housing project and, at the time she misused the social security number, she reportedly was married to an abusive drug dealer who urged her to do so.

Additional coverage:

Associated Press: “Pa. high court orders removal of Philly judge”

Hat tip: How Appealing.

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