Harrisburg, Pa. (WHTM)- At a sanction hearing Friday, the Pennsylvania Judicial Conduct Board asked that former Cumberland County Court of Common Pleas Judge Thomas Placey at least be barred from serving as a judge in the future as a result of his misconduct in the courtroom.
The Court of Judicial Discipline found that Placey violated the Code of Judicial Conduct and the Pennsylvania Constitution with his yelling outbursts in the courtroom.
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Placey, 59, told the Court of Judicial Discipline he was the first to acknowledge he was having an issue and needed help and started treatment prior to the complaints filed against him with the Judicial Conduct Board.
Placey believes his outbursts were related to concussions he suffered playing college football. Placey told the court he sought treatment in 2019 after he started having trouble sleeping and was experiencing absent mindedness, avoidance issues, and mood swings. He said he found himself shaking on the bench and becoming increasingly overwhelmed and frustrated with certain litigants and attorneys which led to his outbursts.
Those outbursts, which were on tape, were part of the evidence entered by the Judicial Conduct Board.
Placey’s attorney, Heidi Eakin, urged the court to use this as a “teaching moment” to warn the Judiciary what they say in the courtroom are not “just stark written words”, citing many courtroom proceedings are recorded and how a judge speaks to people in the courtroom is more accessible to the public in the age of social media.
When Eakin was asked what sanction she believed was appropriate in Placey’s case she told the court Placey essentially sanctioned himself when he retired in June this year stepping away from a job he loved and anything else other than a reprimand wound be “unjust”.
Placey told the Court of Judicial Discipline he has developed skills to cope and handle future issues in a healthy manner and he is focused on positive outcomes and taking care of his family.
The Pennsylvania Court of Judicial Discipline will now deliberate and decide what sanction to impose.