MASSILLON, OH (WOIO) - The Supreme Court of Ohio suspended the law license of Massillon Municipal Court Judge Edward J. Elum for six months, with the full term of suspension stayed, for violations of the Code of Judicial Conduct and Rules of Professional Conduct in his handling of two cases.
In a 7-0 per curiam decision, the court adopted findings by the Board of Commissioners on Grievances & Discipline that in one case Elum improperly "interceded" in the case of a parole violator by asking probation officers to take the defendant into his courtroom for a "probation review", and outside the presence of the defendant's attorney or counsel for the prosecutor, addressed the defendant using vulgar and intemperate language while other members of the public were present. Elum then unilaterally modified the terms of the defendant's probation.
In the second case, the court agreed with findings by the disciplinary board that Elum, who admitted that he had a history of conflicts and disagreements with the Massillon Police Department and Police Chief Robert Williams, improperly interjected himself into an internal police investigation of misconduct by an officer who sent sexually explicit text messages, photos and a video to a woman after citing her for traffic violations that were prosecuted in Elum's court.
When the state requested a second continuance of the woman's trial because of incomplete investigatory information, Elum issued an order stating that the police department was "delaying the prosecution" of the case and ordered the parties to provide the court with copies of the text messages and photos that the arresting officer had sent to the defendant despite the absence of a request by any party for the court to obtain or review that material. Elum later threatened to hold contempt proceedings if the parties failed to submit the requested material, and made statements in open court accusing the police of "total neglect and disregard" and assuring the defendant that his court "did not participate in any cover-up" of police misconduct.
The court adopted the board's findings that Elum had engaged in conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice, and had violated, among others, the state judicial rules that require judges to be patient, dignified and courteous to litigants, to act in a manner that promotes public confidence in the judiciary, and to apply the law and perform judicial duties fairly and impartially.