CLEVELAND — On Tuesday, the Ohio Supreme Court removed longtime Cleveland Municipal Court judge Pinkey Carr from the bench and temporarily stripped her of her law license.
The court's ruling cited years of misconduct allegations. This is the second-most severe sanction that can be imposed against an attorney or judge for ethical violations.
Rick Dove, the director of the Ohio Board of Professional Conduct, said that board called the former judge's level of misconduct unprecedented.
“I think it was unprecedented from the board’s standpoint for a couple of different perspectives. First of all, the scope of Ms. Carr’s misconduct as a judge involved five separate counts,” Dove said. “There were issues related to her decorum, in terms of how she interacted with parties whether it was defendants, whether it was prosecutors, other people who came before her as a judge.”
The investigation into the former judge's courtroom began at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic.
The ruling said Carr held in-person hearings in March 2020, despite an order from the court's administrative judge that declared all such hearings would be postponed.
Carr then issued warrants for more than a dozen people who didn’t show up to court.
The investigation also found that Carr jailed people in an effort to compel them to pay fines to make more money for the court and once ordered someone to spend 15 days in jail because they rolled their eyes and made remarks about Carr's courtroom during a hearing.
“Judges hold so much power and positions of authority. It is also designed to ensure public trust and confidence in the judicial system because if people see what happened to individuals who came to former Judge Carr when she was on the bench, they wonder if they go into municipal court for a traffic ticket if they are going to be treated the same way,” Dove said. “Imposing severe sanctions against judges who engage in misconduct is designed in part to make sure the public understands that if someone does this, they will be punished severely from the standpoint of a disciplinary sanction.”
After two years, Carr can petition for reinstatement to the practice of law.