Ohio magistrate judge Stephen Edwin Weithman has been suspended from not just the bench but any legal practice in a bizarre case where he was accused of such things as ogling a female witness in a case involving the alleged distribution of nude photos of the woman by her ex-husband. Weithman was found to have failed to comply an earlier order.
Weithman was given a stayed sanction so long as he could control his anger and stick with a treatment plan. He was found to have failed to meet those requirements.
Weithman was originally sanctioned in conduct in a case involving the nude pictures. Weithman was accused of weird behavior in a status conference where he “mockingly imitated the voice of the wife’s attorney.” He was then accused of going into the hall and checking out the woman. A witness said that he “slowly ogled” the wife and later told the wife’s lawyer that she needed to provide him with intimate pictures of the husband’s girlfriend. The pictures of the girlfriend were also allegedly published on the Internet. At a later discovery hearing, Weithman is accused of losing his temper and telling the husband’s lawyer to “comply with discovery and shut up once in a while . . . All Franklin County attorneys are stupid.” In a different hearing, the husband’s lawyer allegedly threw paper clips at Weithman who did nothing. Yet, before cross-examination of the wife, Weithman “jokingly told the husband’s counsel that he would give him a dollar if he could make the wife cry on the stand and simultaneously removed a dollar bill from his wallet and placed it on the bench.”
His dislike for Franklin County attorneys was equally evident in a divorce case where Weithman began to yell about the failure to reach an agreement on child-support issues: “I don’t know what it is with the Franklin County attorneys, you won’t get a decision on this until the divorce is tried and I’ll continue this divorce for two more years.” He also shouted while reportedly storming out of courtroom that the husband “makes $150,000 per year, and he’s trying to get out of paying six weeks of support!”
The Court noted that Weithman had been diagnosed with a probable mood disorder and that he has a clean record before this ethics case. The court further noted evidence of a commitment to fulfill a treatment plan, though it is unclear what he did to warrant the imposition of the sanction after the initial ruling. The Court stated in mitigation:
Weithman has demonstrated his commitment to his treatment plan and has begun to develop positive outlets and coping strategies to deal with the stress attendant to his work, has committed to a four-year OLAP contract, and has submitted letters from 11 attorneys attesting to his good character, reputation, and work ethic apart from the charged misconduct. For these reasons, we believe that a conditionally stayed suspension, as recommended by the panel—albeit for a longer term than that recommended by either the panel or the board—will best protect the public from future misconduct at Weithman’s hand.
What is curious is the subjectivity of some of the allegation like what constitutes “ogling” or a demand for photos that could be arguably viewed as material evidence. What is odd is that, when he insisted on a lawyer in the case turning over a CD containing the intimate photos of the ex-husband’s current girlfriend, the lawyer said that she gave the magistrate a blank CD. He then signed the order.
Of course, the record overall is quite damning. The outbursts are clearly unprofessional and worthy of sanctions.
Here is the decision: Weithman
Source: ABA Journal