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Tipsheet

Ohio Judge Suspended for ‘Unprecedented’ Incidents of Misconduct

The Ohio Supreme Court issued an opinion this week removing a Cleveland Municipal Court judge from her position over several “unprecedented” incidents of misconduct. 

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Judge Pinkey S. Carr’s law license was suspended following a 5-2 vote on Tuesday. The justices agreed with the Board of Professional Conduct that Carr had “ruled her courtroom in a reckless and cavalier manner, unconstrained by the law or the court’s rules,” the opinion stated. 

“Carr’s unprecedented misconduct involved more than 100 stipulated incidents that occurred over a period of approximately two years and encompassed repeated acts of dishonesty; the blatant and systematic disregard of due process, the law, court orders, and local rules; the disrespectful treatment of court staff and litigants; and the abuse of capias warrants and the court’s contempt power. That misconduct warrants an indefinite suspension from the practice of law,” it explained.

According to ABC News, Carr did not reschedule cases when the municipal court closed its doors at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. She reportedly issued warrants for defendants who did not show up in court and waived court costs and fines for those who appeared. She even joked about taking bribes.

“On multiple occasions, Carr joked that she would be amenable to some form of bribe in return for a lenient sentence,” the opinion stated.

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Carr repeatedly wore “inappropriate” clothing, including T-shirts, shorts and tank tops while in court. During a series of proceedings in open court, Carr, her staff and the defendants “maintained a dialogue” about the television show “P-Valley,” which is about a strip club in Mississippi.

“And in another display of inappropriate humor, she announced from the bench in open court, ‘You know what my P-Valley, my name gonna be Passion. I got to go to that class though so I can learn how to climb that pole,’” Carr said, according to the court. 

The Columbus Dispatch also noted that Carr falsified court documents and lied to the press.

“Although Carr frequently behaved as though the rules of courtroom decorum did not apply to her, she did not hesitate to correct defendants for seemingly minor infractions,” the opinion continued, which apparently included being called “ma’am” by defendants who were men.

“When male defendants referred to her as ‘ma’am,’ Carr would chastise them, calling them ‘little boy,’” it added.

According to the justices, a forensic and clinical psychologist, Dr. Riebe evaluated Carr and said that menopause and sleep apnea have “contributed to her professional misconduct.”

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However, the opinion stated that the board was “troubled” by the doctor’s “limited knowledge of the facts and lack of familiarity with the breadth of Carr’s misconduct.” The justices wrote that Riebe had access to more than seven hours of video footage from Carr’s courtroom, but only watched 15 to 30 minutes of it. Despite this, Dr. Riebe testified that Carr is “a very sick individual.”

“After weighing Carr’s ‘breathtaking number of infractions,’ the aggravating and mitigating factors, and the sanctions we have imposed on magistrates and judges who have engaged in similar—although fewer—acts of misconduct, the board recommended that we suspend Carr from the practice of law for two years with no stay and immediately suspend her from judicial office without pay for the duration of her disciplinary suspension,” the justices wrote. 

Carr and her attorney, Rich Koblentz, told ABC they believe the sanctions were “too harsh” for her misconduct. 

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