HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — The Pennsylvania Court of Judicial Discipline has issued its opinion in the Judicial Conduct Board’s case against former Cumberland County Court of Common Pleas Judge Thomas Placey.
The court said Placey violated Article 5,17(b) of the Code of Judicial Conduct and Article V, 17(b) of the Pennsylvania Constitution and is subject to discipline.
In its opinion, the Court of Judicial Discipline said “It is clear from the stipulated facts the Judge Placey was not controlling his temper in court. The rude, loud outbursts toward counsel and witnesses are obvious violations of the demeanor required of a trial judge.”
The Judicial Conduct board entered several audio tapes of Judge Placey yelling in the courtroom as evidence.
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“When a judge misuses his power he not only affects the litigants that are directly before him, he also gives the judicial system a black eye and threatens to undermind the public confidence in the courts,” Michael Dimino said.
Dimino is a professor of law at Widener University. He says although Placey resigned from the bench on June 1, it was important the Court of Judicial Discipline still issue an opinion on his case.
“There is an important value in having this proceeding declare that the judge has violated the Code of Judicial Conduct both to vindicate the interests of the people who were in his courtroom and to vindicate the interest of the overall judicial system,” Dimino said.
According to the Judicial Conduct Board, Placey could face a range of sanctions including a reprimand, a fine, or a ban from any future service.
As for Placey’s pension, several months ago the conduct board withdrew some counts against Placey which could have potentially forfeited his pension.
Placey has blamed his outbursts in court on concussions he suffered playing college football.
Placey’s attorney will have a chance to respond to the court’s opinion and a sanction hearing will be scheduled.