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Lucas County judge receives six-month suspension

(OYS)
Published: Sep. 29, 2020 at 12:51 PM EDT
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TOLEDO, Ohio (WTVG) - A Lucas County judge received a six-month suspension from the Supreme Court of Ohio for interfering in a case assigned to another judge.

Lucas County Common Pleas Court Judge Michael R. Goulding violated three rules of conduct, including abusing the prestige of his office to advance his personal or economic interests, according to the per curiam opinion of the Supreme Court.

The suspension stems from a February 2019 case where a Lucas County grand jury indicted a teenage boy -- identified in court records as C.G. -- for three second-degree felony counts of illegal use of a minor in a nudity-oriented performance. C.G. was arrested and held without bail in the Lucas County Jail on a Friday.

His case was assigned to Judge Joseph McNamara and scheduled for an arraignment hearing on the following Tuesday. On Sunday, Goulding receiving a phone call from friends who asked him to come to their home for an emergency.

The friend’s daughter had locked herself in her room after C.G.'s arrest, who was her boyfriend. She was not the minor involved in the charges brought against C.G.

Goulding called the Lucas County Pretrial Services Department, where he asked about the pending charges against C.G., who was held on several felonies and on probation for an aggravated menacing conviction in Maumee.

C.G. was recommended to be released from jail on bond and prohibited to have contact with the alleged victim. Goulding ordered the jail to immediately release C.G. on a recognizance bond with a no-contact order.

Goulding contacted C.G.'s attorney and informed them C.G. was released on bond. On the day of the arraignment, Goulding left a message with McNamara, informing him of the bond he had set for C.G. Goulding did not inform C.G.'s attorney that he had an ex parte communication with C.G. where he learned information about the case, and he didn’t inform the prosector’s office that he had spoken with or released C.G. from jail.

While preparing for the case, an assistant county prosecutor listened to C.G.'s jail calls and recognized Goulding’s voice. The prosecutor informed his supervisor.

Goulding self-reported his actions to the disciplinary board. They said the judge’s communication did not impact the outcome of the case, where C.G. pleaded guilty to four misdemeanor charges in exchange for the dismissal of the three felony charges.

The board reported to the Court that while Judge Goulding admitted to violating two rules, “he downplayed his offenses and failed to offer any plausible explanation for his misconduct.”

The board found the judge would not have self-reported his misconduct had the assistant prosecutor not informed the judge that he would be a potential witness in the case.

“On these facts, the board was not convinced that [Judge] Goulding appreciated the gravity and inappropriateness of his conduct,” the opinion stated.

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