The Florida Supreme Court recently ruled that for a judge to deny justice to victims of intimate partner violence and sadistically toy with them in open court, is, to be entirely candid, just not altogether top-drawer form. (See post 429.)
But what if the judge goes one step beyond re-victimizing by knocking off the "re-"? Consider Cleveland Juvenile Court Judge Joseph Russo:
According to the Supreme Court’s ruling. Russo and his girlfriend became embroiled in an argument while driving home after dinner and drinks at a restaurant in the early morning hours of September 6, 2006. When the argument escalated into a physical altercation, they stopped at a gas station, where the fight continued. Both were arrested and charged with “disorderly conduct intoxicated,” a minor misdemeanor. Later that month, Russo signed a waiver admitting his guilt and paid a $100 fine.
Then in the early morning hours of July 4, 2007, another physical altercation ensued after an argument between Russo and the girlfriend at the couple’s condominium. A neighbor called police, but by the time police arrived, Russo had left the condominium to check into a nearby hotel.
Police interviewed the girlfriend, who asked for a domestic violence temporary protection order. Police also interviewed Russo, who initially denied the fight. When police told him of the domestic-violence charge, however, he claimed that his girlfriend had attacked him. The next day, the Rocky River Municipal Court granted a domestic-violence temporary protection order against respondent.
In early March 2008, the domestic-violence charge was amended to “disorderly conduct persistent,” a misdemeanor of the fourth degree. Russo pleaded no contest and was convicted. Later that month, Russo received a 30-day suspended jail sentence and was ordered to continue counseling for alcohol abuse and anger management. He was also placed on probation for one year and was fined $250.
There was no fight, officer, but she started it. So he's a liar as well as a batterer (sorry - disorderly conductor).
And as a result, the Ohio Supreme Court ruled sternly, he would be allowed to stay on the bench. However, the high court decreed, the meaningless six-month suspension of Judge Russo's law license recommended by the disciplinary board wasn't enough. After all, it was a purely symbolic suspension so long as the judge remained in his full-time juvie court position.
"A sanction more rigorous than the board's recommendation is required." So the court sternly upped it to a meaningless twelve-month suspension of the judge's law license, and then suspended the suspension, restoring the status quo. Take that, Judge Russo!