Court News Ohio
Court News Ohio
Court News Ohio

Former Magistrate Disciplined for Profanity-Laced Rants

The Ohio Supreme Court today has suspended a long-time magistrate accused of abusive and disrespectful conduct.

The Supreme Court ruled 4-2 to suspend Stephen E. Weithman of Delaware for two years, stayed, for violating professional conduct rules. Weithman served as a magistrate for more than 30 years, most recently in the Delaware County Common Pleas Court Domestic Relations Division.

Among the charges brought by the Disciplinary Counsel, Weithman was accused of making inappropriate comments during a contentious case of a woman who claimed her ex-husband was in contempt of court for posting nude pictures of her on the Internet. Weithman lost his temper during a March 2007 hearing and went on a profanity-laced tirade. During the trial in 2008, Weithman jokingly told the ex-husband’s lawyer he would pay him a dollar to make the ex-wife cry on the stand. He was also accused of looking at the ex-wife in a “demeaning and degrading fashion” in the hallway.

The Supreme Court decided to increase the length of Weithman’s suspension to two years to “best protect the public from future misconduct.”

The Supreme Court decided to increase the length of Weithman’s suspension to two years to “best protect the public from future misconduct.”

In another case from 2013, he used abusive, vulgar language and yelled at a husband’s lawyer while threatening to delay the divorce. Weithman refused to recuse himself, but was later removed from the case by the trial court after the husband’s lawyer filed a motion challenging his impartiality.

While the Board of Commissioners on Grievances and Discipline, now known as the Board of Professional Conduct, recommended Weithman be suspended for one year, with six months stayed with conditions, the Supreme Court decided to increase the length of his suspension to two years to “best protect the public from future misconduct at Weithman’s hand.”

“Weithman’s quick temper, his impatient, disrespectful, and profanity-laced rants directed toward the litigants and counsel who appeared in his courtroom, and his failure to curb displays of disrespect and excessive familiarity exhibited by counsel who had long practiced in his courtroom have also compromised public trust and confidence in the independence, impartiality, and integrity of the judiciary,” the court wrote in the per curiam decision.

His suspension will be stayed as long as he doesn’t engage in any further misconduct and that he remain in compliance with the terms of a contract with the Ohio Lawyers Assistance Program for treatment of mental health issues.

Justices Terrence O'Donnell, Sharon L. Kennedy, Judith L. French, and William M. O'Neill joined in the majority opinion.

Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor and Justice Judith Ann Lanzinger dissented and would have imposed the one-year suspension with six months stayed.

Justice Paul E. Pfeifer did not participate in the decision.

2014-0544. Disciplinary Counsel v. Weithman, Slip Opinion No. 2015-Ohio-482.

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