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Lucy, Esq.
Lucy, Esq., Attorney
Category: Legal
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Experience:  Lawyer
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I have been through domestic court. The plaintiff's lawyer

Customer Question

I have been through domestic court. The plaintiff's lawyer is a judge in the same county. How can this be legal and ethical? I will add, often a Magistrate hears arguments. Does a Judge have higher rank then a Magistrate? If yes, doesn't this make the Magistrate a subordinate to the Judge, otherwise the Plaintiff's Attorney?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Legal
Expert:  Lucy, Esq. replied 1 year ago.

Hi,

I'm Lucy, and I'd be happy to answer your questions today.

It's not legal. Canon 3 of the Code of Judicial Ethics says "A judge shall conduct the judge’s personal and extrajudicial activities so as to minimize the risk of conflict with the obligations of judicial office." Rule 3.2 prohibits judges from appearing in court unless he is representing himself.

You have the ability to file a Motion to Recuse Opposing Counsel on teh grounds that he is a judge and it is illegal for him to also be practicing law. You also have the ability to report him to the Office of Disciplinary Counsel.

http://www.supremecourt.ohio.gov/DisciplinarySys/odc/complaint.asp

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Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Thank you. What type of an attorney would be able to address this issue. This Mahoning county has a history of corruption and wrong doing. Any attorney in town would be an outcast to file this charge. Where do I go? I'm lost and defeated against these people. They refuse to let me speak in court. They always meet privately with only judges and counsel. No outside parties are present and recording is not permitted per judge.
Expert:  Lucy, Esq. replied 1 year ago.

You don't need a lawyer to file a Complaint with the Supreme Court - you can do it yourself using the form I provided. The Office of the Disciplinary Counsel is independent, and they have people from throughout the state who can investigate. They're bound to uphold the laws. If the magistrate currently hearing your case is also behaving inappropriately, you can report him, too. Ex parte communications with the parties are prohibited, and you should be allowed to have a court reporter attend hearings if you're willing to pay for one.

Court hearings are public record, so if they won't let you have an official court reporter, you could look into having a friend sit in the audience so you have someone who can testify as to what's going on. And when the case is over, you'll have strong grounds to appeal if you can't get an impartial judge sooner.

It's also possible to file a Motion to Recuse yourself, but if you prefer to hire a lawyer, any litigation attorney can assist you. A divorce lawyer should also be able to help, since you're in divorce court. Many of them may have seen this type of situation before.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I read in Ohio law that municipal and county judges are part time and are permitted to practice law? Your thoughts?
Expert:  Lucy, Esq. replied 1 year ago.

The code I posted applies to all full-time judges. You would have to confirm whether the judge in question works full or part-time, but your situation is the very reason that most judges are not permitted to practice law. This is exactly what the state doesn't want to happen.

Also, the general rules of professional ethics would still apply, and if the judge is applying any sort of undue influence on the magistrate hearing the case, that's still a violation. On top of that, the judge hearing your case appears to be violating some rules of his own by favoring the other side and not granting an impartial hearing. if he has a relationship with the plaintiff's attorney that makes it impossible for him to be impartial, he should've recused himself and not heard the case. The situation you've described is NOT OK.

Expert:  Lucy, Esq. replied 1 year ago.

If it's really true that ALL judges in your area are part time and therefore able to practice law, you may want to consult with one of them about helping you balance the scales.