The Ohio Supreme Court on Tuesday indefinitely suspended without pay Judge Pinkey S. Carr for misconduct that includes lies, disrespectful treatment, abuse of power, falsifying court documents — and even violating “rules governing the appropriate dress, order, and decorum for courtrooms” such as wearing tank tops and spandex shorts in court.
Carr, who’s with the Cleveland Municipal Court, agreed to undergo evaluations of her mental and physical health, according to the state supreme court.
What are the details?
The state supreme court found that Carr’s “unprecedented misconduct” over a two-year period included “blatant and systematic disregard of due process, the law, court orders, and local rules.” Car also was repeatedly dishonest, treated court staff and litigants disrespectfully, and abused her power to issue arrest warrants and find individuals in contempt of court, the state supreme court said.
In March 2020, the Cleveland Municipal Court presiding judge ordered the rescheduling of civil and criminal cases to prevent the spread of COVID-19, the state supreme court said. But it noted that Carr instead presided over her regular docket the next week and ordered arrests for criminal defendants who didn’t appear and set bonds ranging from $2,500 to $10,000.
For defendants who Carr said were “brave enough” to appear in court, she waived fines and court costs, the state supreme court said.
When local news media interviewed Carr, she lied about issuing arrest warrants and lied to her presiding judge about the actions, the state supreme court said.
During a disciplinary process, Carr agreed to 583 statements of fact and misconduct stretching across 126 pages, the state supreme court said, adding that the Board of Professional Conduct catalogued only a limited sample of the judge’s admitted misconduct.
The judge falsified court journal entries and used warrants and incarceration to force payment of fines and costs by tying the person’s bond to the amount of the fine and costs, “essentially creat[ing] a modern-day debtors’ prison,” the state supreme court found, adding that she also abused her power in one case to hold a person in contempt, after which the individual served 15 days in jail.
Carr also violated rules governing the appropriate dress, order, and decorum for courtrooms, the state supreme court said, noting that her “bench was littered with dolls, cups, novelty items, and junk. She presided over her courtroom wearing tank tops, T-shirts – some with images or slogans, spandex shorts, and sneakers. She discussed with her staff and defendants a television show called ‘P-Valley’ about a fictional Mississippi strip club. She also joked about accepting kickbacks in lieu of fines and having defendants give her and court staff items such as food, beverages, carpeting, or storage space in exchange for lenient sentences.”
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The state supreme court added that Carr’s actions “undermined public confidence in the independence, integrity, and impartiality of the judiciary.”
Indefinite suspension without pay
The state supreme court said it ordered Carr immediately and indefinitely suspended from judicial office without pay.
Carr argued that diagnosed mental health disorders were a contributing cause to her misconduct, the state supreme court said, but the board noted she didn’t say her current mental disorders caused her past misconduct.