On Tuesday, April 25, 2023, the Ohio Disciplinary Counsel filed an answer to Hon. Kim Hoover’s objection to the finding of facts, conclusions of law, and report and recommendation of the Board of Professional Conduct. Hon Kim Hoover is a judge in the Stow Municipal Court in Ohio.

The case is entitled “Disciplinary Counsel v. Hon. Kim Hoover,” with case no. 2023-0188.

The charges cited Code of Judicial Conduct 1.2, 2.2, 2.3, and 8.4(d) which states:

A judge shall act at all times in a manner that promotes public confidence in the independence, integrity, and impartiality of the judiciary, and shall avoid impropriety and the appearance of impropriety.

A judge shall uphold and apply the law and shall perform all duties of judicial office fairly and impartially.

A judge shall not, in the performance of judicial duties, by words or conduct manifest bias or prejudice.

A lawyer shall not engage in conduct that is prejudicial to the administration of justice.

In a report by the AbusiveDiscretion, it was mentioned that this case is rooted in the complaint filed by the Disciplinary Counsel against the respondent alleging that the latter employed illegal and coercive tactics, such as imprisonment for several days or detention for several hours, to force unrepresented criminal defendants to pay their fines and costs. As a by-product, it was stated that the respondent has exhibited a bias against people who appear without counsel and cannot afford to pay their fines and costs.

The report states:

“In the findings of facts, it was found that the complaint against Judge Hoover basically boils down to money. It specifically involves the respondent’s methods of collecting fines and costs from municipal defendants, whether those methods are lawful, and whether vulnerable individuals were coerced to pay costs and fines, thereby creating the equivalent of a modem-day debtor’s prison.”

In response, the respondent filed an objection to the recommendation of the hearing panel that the respondent be suspended from the practice of law for a period of two years.

The report continues:

“In the respondent’s objection to the factual findings filed on March 21, 2023, he emphasized that in each of these cases, he issued a valid sentence, within the confines of the applicable law, and fashioned alternatives for the benefit of the defendant and the overwhelmed court system as a whole. The respondent explained one by one all the charges against him and justified the same. The respondent stated that It is the relator’s obligation to prove by clear and convincing evidence all the respondent’s conduct.”

Following the disagreement of the respondent to the said recommendation of discipline, the Disciplinary Board filed its answer to the respondent’s objection on April 25, 2023, stating that the respondent’s continued inability to acknowledge the wrongful nature of his misconduct and his failure to appreciate the harm caused to the most vulnerable makes respondent a clear and present danger.

According to the Disciplinary Counsel, the board correctly concluded that the respondent violated the above-mentioned Code of Judicial Conduct. The former emphasized that in every count, the respondent used coercive tactics to extort money from unrepresented, socioeconomically disadvantaged people in a biased and prejudiced manner. And because of this, the Disciplinary Counsel requested that the court overrule the respondent’s objection.

The relator’s-answer states:

“The Board summarized the respondent’s judicial philosophy using the respondent’s own words: “If you don’t have any money, then it ain’t going to work out for your today.” That philosophy, along with his continued inability to acknowledge the wrongful nature of his misconduct and his failure to appreciate the harm caused to the most vulnerable among us makes respondent a clear and present danger. Relator urges this court to overrule the respondent’s objections, adopt the Board’s recommendation, and suspend the respondent from the practice of law for two years.”

Judge Hoover attended the University of Akron School of Law.

Judge Hoover’s Courtroom is located at 4400 Courthouse Blvd, Stow, OH 44224, and can be reached at +1 330-564-4200. His info can be found on stowmunicourt.com.

A copy of the original filing can be found here.