Taxpayers on the hook for suspended judge's huge legal bills - Cleveland 19 News Cleveland, OH

Taxpayers on the hook for suspended judge's huge legal bills

Judge Angela Stokes (Source: Cleveland Municipal Court) Judge Angela Stokes (Source: Cleveland Municipal Court)
Suspended Cleveland Municipal Court Judge Angela Stokes actions in the courtroom led the Disciplinary Counsel of the Ohio Supreme Court to temporarily suspend her from the practice of law. It concluded, after reviewing 337 complaints, that she posed the risk of substantial harm to the public. Our investigation showed her taxpayer paid legal bills are staggering.

She was unavailable to comment, but we've crunched the numbers and found taxpayers are on the hook for her legal bills, as well as those of lawyers for other judges she has sued. 

-More than $12,000 to Weston Hurd

-More than $50,000 to Arnold and Associates

-More than $69,000 to Buckingham Doolittle

-Just under $136,000 to Richard Alkire

-The total: $267,252

Richard Alkire is a well-respected expert in the area of professional ethics, which is the kicker to the story. She has replaced Alkire with the firm of Larry Zukerman. So with more than $250,000 spent, a new team of lawyers will begin work on the case. One of the first things Zukerman did was to ask the court to hide his filings from public view. You're paying for them, but you can't see them.

There has been no decision, but the disciplinary counsel's reply identifies the filings as "mostly public court records...that contain no personal identifying or otherwise sensitive information." Also says Stokes has "a severe lack of insight into her poor judicial temperament and administrative incompetence." 

The legal maneuvering has immersed the disciplinary counsel in a sea of paperwork. A November filing was well over 500 pages. 

It won't slow down soon. Multiple hearing dates have been set stretching from later this month until mid-June.

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