A state discipline board says Akron Municipal Court Judge Joy Malek Oldfield should be publicly reprimanded for not taking herself off cases involving a public defender she was found in a parked car with in Copley last year.
But the board found inconclusive evidence as to whether Oldfield was engaging in sexual activity with Catherine Loya. It also ruled Oldfield didn't use her title to try to stop police from arresting Loya after they smelled alcohol on her breath.
Loya was eventually moved out of Oldfield's courtroom, but not before Oldfield handled 53 pleas involving Loya's clients.
The Ohio Supreme Court will make a final decision.
Attorneys for Akron Municipal Court Judge Joy Malek Oldfield used part of the second and final day of an ethics hearing Tuesday to attack the credibility of the police officer who says he found Oldfield and a public defender in the back seat of a car late at night.
The Beacon Journal reports attorney George Jonson said the officer "turned into a teenaged boy" when he saw Oldfield and Catherine Loya in a car together last February. The officer said at the time that Oldfield was only partially dressed when he encountered her. Jonson said it would have been impossible for the two women to be in the back of the small Scion they were in.
Disciplinary Counsel Jonathan Coughlan asked for Oldfield's law license to be suspended for six months. He argued her relationship with Loya and her failure to have Loya transferred out of her courtroom both broke judicial rules.
On the Web: www.ohio.com
The Akron Municipal Court Judge accused of being partially clothed in the back seat of a car with a public defender took the stand yesterday to deny those allegations.
The Beacon Journal reports Judge Joy Malek Oldfield said in a disciplinary hearing before an Ohio Supreme Court board that she and Catherine Loya just stopped for a cigarette and never left the front seat when police found the pair in a parking lot last February.
Officers involved testified that Oldfield didn't try to use her position to influence any special treatment.
Testimony continues today.
On the Web: www.ohio.com
An Akron judge is at the center of controversy over a Copley Township police report that claims she and a public defender were partially-clothed and inside a car that smelled of alcohol.
The Akron Beacon Journal reports Municipal Court Judge Joy Malek Oldfield and Assistant Public Defender Catherine Loya are part of a Copley PD report of a February 5th incident when the car they were in was seen at 1:45 in the morning in a parking lot off Ridgewood Crossing Drive. Officer Thomas Ballinger reported he came upon the car, which was running and had the lights on, and observed a woman's head come up from the back seat and look out the rear window. Ballinger's report says two women put their clothes on and moved to the front seat.
The newspaper reports an attorney representing Oldfield (photo at left, www.lawyer.com) admits she had been drinking that night but John Hill says she was not drunk. He tells the Beacon Journal the judge is "dumbfounded and incredibly upset" by the report, and there is "no unusual or inappropriate relationship" with Loya.
Hill wants an investigation and says Ballinger added details on the incident in a supplemental report filed days later. Copley Police Chief Michael Mier tells the newspaper Ballinger had "no motivation to embellish" the report.
Hill told the newspaper Oldfield and her husband had been socializing that evening with friends, and was upset on learning of a serious illness of a family member. Oldfield's husband, Hill said, went home but urged the judge to remain with friends. Oldfield, Hill told the Beacon Journal, was in the car with Loya and asked her to park the car so she could finish a cigarette and compose herself.
Ballinger's report says Oldfield identified herself as a judge and told the officer she had been drinking. The officer reports he asked Loya to step out of the car and take a breath test, but she refused. She was cited and the case is pending in Barberton Municipal Court.
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