Thursday, July 15, 2010

Sitting Small Law Judge Confuses Role, Gets Suspended

A Van Wert, Ohio (somewhere near the Indiana border according to a map) municipal court judge has been suspended by the Ohio Supreme Court for multiple acts of forgetting that he was the judge, and not some other participant, for instance the police, the jailer, the defense attorney, or the prosecutor. 

Judge Phil Campbell (pic), who is the sitting-Van Wert Municipal Court judge drew a one year suspension with 6 month suspended and if you ask me, he's a very lucky man.  Some of Judge Campbell's cited actions over the course of many years involved incarceration of folks who possibly or probably should not have been incarcerated but for his imperious behavior.  At the link you can read the Ohio opinion upholding Judge Campbell's suspension, but the essence of the underlying trouble was that this Judge was not happy reserving his role to impartial finder of fact and law.  If he felt a defendant should enter a guilty plea, he coerced it.  If Judge Campbell thought your attorney's insistence on constitutional rights was unreasonable he'd call him a "horse's ass."  If the Judge suspected that certain crimes were not being investigated he would unilaterally investigate.

By the way a report at the Van Wert Times Bulletin says Judge Campbell was seated and presiding over cases when the decision was handed down by the Ohio Supreme Court!

We've seen lawyers in Ohio draw long suspensions for ethical acts not bearing on the freedom of citizens or their constitutional rights as when earlier this year an African-American lawyer providing services to an indigent client base drew an indefinite suspension for notarizing a deed outside of the presence of the person who signed it--and yet, here is a petty tyrant acting in a crucial role in the lives of the citizens of Van Wert in a pattern of behavior (over many years) that should send a chill;  and, yet the Ohio Supreme Court and the disciplinary authorities of Ohio give the judge a 6 month timeout!


  1. This guy woul make me real angry! It must be pretty shocking for those Buckeyes in Van Wert!!!!! What happened to the case he was hearing?

  2. Ah-mazing, you appear to have had this story on your blog before the Judge unzipped his robe.

  3. Really, so what?

  4. In my opinion the judicial position with the best opportunity to do good and to teach the Rule of Law is at the level of municipal courts. When your judge is an out of control tyrant, you have a big problem. Years ago, every community has seen guys like this in suburban courts, what's odd is to see a small law judge taken down over this sort of conduct. I hpe the Ohio Supreme Court opinion sends a strong signal to the tyrants in small law courts around Ohio.