Thursday, August 17, 2017

Ethics Court Urged To Put Pa. Judge On Hook For Retaliation

Law360, Philadelphia (August 15, 2017, 4:59 PM EDT) -- For the first time since a sweeping new set of judicial ethics rules went into effect three years ago, the Pennsylvania Court of Judicial Discipline is being urged by an ethics watchdog to find an ex-Northampton County judge liable for retaliating against staffers who complained about his purportedly abusive conduct.

The state’s Judicial Conduct Board argued in a filing on Friday that it had presented ample evidence of ex-Magisterial District Judge David Tidd’s alleged retaliatory conduct during a formal ethics trial in May, including testimony that he’d specifically requested to have two staffers transferred after coming to suspect that they’d filed a complaint against him.

“The charge of retaliation by a judge is an issue of first impression before this court,” the board said. “The board proved by clear and convincing evidence that Judge Tidd knew that retaliatory conduct was prohibited, yet he directly retaliated against his court clerks because of their cooperation with the board’s investigation.”

Tidd, who served on the bench for six years before his resignation in July 2016, was slapped with a string of ethics charges last August covering a host of alleged violations, including his refusal to issue warrants against a friend and legal colleague over his unpaid parking citations, and his failure to recuse himself in cases where he had a potential conflict. The complaint also accused him of failing to recuse himself from a case involving a citation that the landlord of his district court building received after a May 2013 traffic accident.

As Tidd faced investigation, the complaint said that he badgered and berated his court staff about any involvement they may have had in tipping off the JCB to his conduct. This, the board has argued, violates a provision of the state’s Code of Judicial Conduct that became effective in July 2014 barring retaliation “directly or indirectly against a person known or suspected to have assisted or cooperated with an investigation of a judge or a lawyer.”

A trial in the case was held over the course of several days in January, May and June, according to court records.

In proposed finding of fact and conclusions of law filed with the CJD on Friday, the board pointed to an email that Tidd sent to a deputy court administrator in Northampton County requesting the “immediate removal” of two staffers who he said he’d learned had taken part in filing a complaint against him.

Tidd later told a third staffer that he “couldn’t even look at” one of the transferred employees without feeling sick.

After learning that the third staffer had also participated in the board’s investigation, the filing on Friday said, Tidd also requested her transfer.

“This makes contact with her intolerable,” Tidd wrote in an email to the deputy court administrator cited by the board in its filing.

Tidd, meanwhile, has pushed to have the entire case thrown out on grounds that it was improperly based on allegedly selectively edited audio and video recordings he said were submitted to the board to highlight his allegedly improper behavior.

“This selective copying of the videos was very unfair since Mr. Tidd was prevented from preserving all the tapes which would have demonstrated a very fair jurist,” the ex-judge argued in his own proposed findings of fact and conclusions of law last month.

An attorney for Tidd did not immediately return a message seeking comment on Tuesday.

Tidd is represented by Samuel Stretton.

The board is represented by Chief Counsel Robert Graci and Deputy Counsel Elizabeth Flaherty.

The case is In Re: David W. Tidd etc., case number 3 JD 2016, before the Pennsylvania Court of Judicial Discipline.

Full Article & Source:
Ethics Court Urged To Put Pa. Judge On Hook For Retaliation

1 comment:

Ray said...

How many judges retaliate and how many get caught. I am glad to see this one get caught.