Cleveland housing court issues $20 million in fines, Clerk collects only $8,510

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Housing Court Judge Pianka issued $20 million in fines, are they realistic or even collectible?

Cleveland Judge Raymond Pianka has been aggressively pursuing real estate operators that let their properties go into disrepair, creating blight in neighborhoods throughout the city. Over the last 17 months, he’s assessed contempt fines of $1,000 per day for companies that refuse to show up in court to answer charges.

Most of the charges involve companies that bought up foreclosed houses at the bottom of the recession, and then let them fall into disrepair, ignoring notices of code violations on the properties and subsequent court summons. Pianka began charging the fines in May 2009 after the Ohio Supreme Court ruled that he could not conduct trials for criminal code violations without the companies present.

While his plan to get the attention, and money, of deadbeat owners seemed reasonable, he didn’t expect that the fines would just pile up, now over $20 million. So far, Cleveland Clerk of Courts Earle B. Turner has managed to collect from only a handful of companies, a total of less than $10,000. Read more

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San Diego Judge Resigns Over Crude Behavior

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San Diego Superior Court Judge DeAnn M. Salcido has agreed to step down from the bench after being censured by the California Commission on Judicial Performance. Salcido was charged with inappropriate and intemperate behavior towards lawyers and defendants.

Salcido was appointed to her position in 2002 by Governor Gray Davis and was reelected this year. Previously, she was a deputy district attorney in both Los Angeles and San Diego counties. She was charged by the commission of 39 instances in which she made mocking, rude and off-color comments. She was also under fire for allowing her courtroom to be filmed by a Hollywood producer as an audition for a potential reality show in which she would star.

In one instance, Salcido told a defendant that he would be “screwed” if he violated probation and “we don’t offer Vaseline for that.”

Los Angeles Times

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Dallas D.A. and Judge Battle It Out In Court

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Collin County District Attorney John Roach has filed criminal charges against a state district judge, her campaign manager and two others, according to The Dallas Morning News.

The indictment is the latest chapter in an ongoing feud between Judge Suzanne Wooten and Roach, and stems from her defeat of longtime incumbent Judge Charles Sandoval in the 2008 Republican Primary. After the 2008 election, Sandoval met with district attorney staff and accused Wooten of improprieties, which led to an investigation of possible campaign violations by Wooten.

According to the indictments, David Cary and Stacy Stine Cary are accused of making $150,000 in contributions to her election campaign, in exchange for favorable treatment her 380th District Court, should she be elected. At the time, the Carys were involved in court case involving David Cary’s ex-wife and children in the 380th District.

In September, a grand jury impaneled by Wooten requested a special prosecutor to investigate “possible criminal wrongdoing” in Roach’s office. More recently, Roach announced that he would not submit cases to the grand jury overseen by Wooten, and that he planned to resubmit more than 100 indictments made by that grand jury to a new panel.

The Dallas Morning News

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