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The Ohio Supreme Court removed from the bench a Cleveland municipal judge for misconduct that included falsifying court documents, disrespectful treatment, lies, and wearing inappropriate clothes in court, such as “spandex shorts” and tank tops.
Cleveland Municipal Court Judge Pinkey Carr, a Democrat, was removed from the bench on Tuesday and temporarily stripped of her law license for committing what the justices determined to be “unprecedented” behavior.
The justices voted 5-2 to indefinitely suspend the law license of Carr, who spent an early part of her career working under former Cleveland Democrat Mayor Michael White.
“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,” the Supreme Court opinion said. “That misconduct warrants an indefinite suspension from the practice of law.”
As reported by Cleveland.com, the allegations against Carr are troubling and serious:
Carr’s misdeeds spanned two years and led to multiple people being wrongly arrested and deprived of their liberty, the majority of the justices wrote. The investigation into Carr began at the outset of the coronavirus pandemic, when she held in-person hearings on March 16 and 17, despite an order from the court’s Administrative Judge Michelle Earley declaring that all such hearings would be postponed.
Carr, who mocked an attorney who admitted to being nervous about being in the courtroom, issued arrest warrants for more than a dozen people who didn’t show up.
The examination found that Carr was jailing people in an effort to compel them to pay fines to make more money for the court. It also revealed that Carr once ordered a woman to spend 15 days in jail because the woman rolled her eyes and made disparaging remarks about Carr’s courtroom during a hearing. Carr berated the woman, held a contempt hearing, which she failed to recuse herself from, and mischaracterized her actions as a basis to send her to jail, the court found.
She negotiated plea deals with defendants on behalf of city prosecutors who were not present and then falsified journal entries that said prosecutors were involved — an act that the court’s majority said in its opinion could amount to the crime of falsification.
“The severity and scope of [Carr’s] judicial misconduct are unprecedented in Ohio,” the disciplinary counsel’s filing said.
“Carr also entered the Ohio Lawyers Assistance Program, a treatment program for attorneys with substance abuse or mental health issues, and began a mentorship program with Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Judge Joan Synenberg. Carr sat in Synenberg’s courtroom and watched her demeanor,” Cleveland.com reported. “Tuesday’s opinion noted that Carr’s attorneys had asked the court to find that negative stories in the press about Carr’s misconduct amounted to a sanction and counted as mitigating evidence.”
The Ohio Supreme Court justices wrote in the majority that they “decline to find that truthful media reports of Judge Carr’s flagrant disregard of the administrative order suspending most courthouse activity in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic constitute” mitigating evidence.
Cleveland Municipal Court Judge Pinkey Carr removed from bench, suspended by Ohio Supreme Court https://t.co/BsVq81vOP6
— Kevin Landers (@Kevin10TV) October 19, 2022
Carr apologized for her conduct and admitted to all of the misconduct she was accused of committing during the disciplinary process. Her lawyers said they are not aware of what Carr plans to do next.
“The sanction is the most severe punishment the court can hand down short of disbarment. Carr can apply to have the court reinstate her law license after two years, but she must first convince the justices that she has sufficiently addressed the issues that led the court to take her license,” Cleveland.com reported.