A report by WCPO 9 on October 26, 2023, revealed that a formal complaint has been filed against Hamilton County Probate Judge Ralph Winkler, accusing him of misconduct following comments he made on Facebook regarding a case under his jurisdiction. The Ohio Board of Professional Conduct has received the complaint, which alleges that Judge Winkler engaged in inappropriate behavior by responding to the son of a woman involved in an ongoing guardianship case who had criticized a magistrate’s handling of the matter.
The incident in question took place in October 2022 when the son commented on a post on Judge Winkler’s public profile. In response, Winkler asserted that the son was upset because the court had to intervene to ensure the well-being of his mother, implying negligence on the son’s part. Winkler further stated that he was grateful to a neighbor who reported the alleged elder abuse, indicating that the situation could have been dire if not for the court’s intervention.
According to the complaint, many of Judge Winkler’s comments were deemed inaccurate and misleading, particularly regarding the claim of elder abuse. Winkler admitted that he had relied solely on his memory while responding and had not reviewed the details of the case.
Recognizing the impropriety of his comments, Judge Winkler subsequently deleted them and handed control of his Facebook page to a staff member. He also removed or concealed the son’s comments. However, the complaint highlights that the guardianship case was open when Winkler made the remarks and remains ongoing. Winkler recused himself from the case in August.
The Ohio Board of Professional Conduct will now proceed with an investigation into the allegations against Judge Winkler. If found guilty of misconduct, he could face disciplinary action, which may include sanctions or even removal from the bench.
Source: WCPO 9