Legal Ethics

Senior Judge Is Charged with Choking Wife in Domestic Dispute

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Updated: A senior Pennsylvania judge has been criminally charged with misdemeanor assault and summary harassment after a claimed alcohol-fueled domestic incident Saturday in which he allegedly choked his wife. It appears that she was not seriously injured.

C. Joseph Rehkamp, 61, later turned himself in, reports the Carlisle Sentinel. A former president judge of Perry County, he is now a senior judge doing much-needed fill-in work in Luzerne County, where the bench has been depleted in a stunning series of corruption scandals.

Initially, he was taken off the Luzerne bench for this week, while administrators considered his future. (“There’s no question but that we are in dire straits with regard to our staffing of the courts,” Luzerne County President Judge Thomas Burke Jr. told the Standard Speaker.)

However, he was since removed from hearing cases by the state supreme court’s chief justice while he resolves the domestic charge, as discussed in a subsequent ABAJournal.com post.

The Standard Speaker could not reach Rehkamp for comment. In practice for more than 35 years, he is a former Perry County district attorney, reports the Wilkes Barre Times-Leader, which also could not reach the judge. As a condition of bail, he has been ordered not to have any contact with his wife.

A more serious domestic incident in Connecticut earlier this month left a former White House lawyer in jail facing an attempted murder case and his wife, who works for a major law firm, in the hospital after he allegedly beat and choked her.

At last report, John Michael Farren, 57, was in jail in lieu of $2 million bail and state attorney disciplinary authorities were seeking to suspend his license to practice law.

Contending that in a Stamford Superior Court filing last week that Farren represents a “substantial threat or irreparable harm to his clients or to his prospective clients,” the Office of Chief Disciplinary Counsel is seeking both to lift his license and to have Farren appoint a trustee to wind up his law practice, recounts the Hour.

Earlier coverage:

ABAJournal.com: “Attempted Murder Case Against Former White House Lawyer Followed Fizzling of His Legal Career”

Updated on Jan. 20 to include information from subsequent ABAJournal.com post.

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