On September 14, 2022, the Supreme Court of Ohio ordered the public reprimand of Scioto County Judge Alan Lemons for misconduct.

The filing is entitled, “Disciplinary Counsel v. Lemons” with Case #2022-0713.

The charges cited Lemons’ violation of Rules 2.2, 2.9(c), 2.11(A)(1), and of the Ohio Code of Judicial Conduct,  which state:

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

A judge shall not investigate facts in a matter independently and shall consider only the evidence presented and any facts that may properly be judicially noticed.

A judge shall disqualify himself or herself in any proceeding in which the judge’s impartiality might reasonably be questioned when the judge has a personal bias or prejudice concerning a party or a party’s lawyer, or personal knowledge of facts that are in dispute in the proceeding.

According to the filing:

“In December 2021, relator, disciplinary counsel, charged Lemons with violating the Code of Judicial Conduct for independently investigating facts in a juvenile-court matter, failing to recuse himself from that case, and failing to perform the duties of judicial office fairly and impartially.”

Lemons, in explaining his actions said that he had investigated the home of a defendant arrested on a charge of corrupting a juvenile with drugs and issued the emergency order because he was upset with Scioto County Children Services Board (“SCCSB”) for refusing to remove the children and wanted to “force [SCCSB] to do their job.”

Lemons stipulated the charged misconduct, and the parties jointly recommended that he be publicly reprimanded. After a hearing, the Board of Professional Conduct issued a report finding that Lemons had engaged in the stipulated misconduct and agreed with the parties’ recommended sanction.

After its review of the record, the court agreed that the sanction recommended by the board is appropriate.

The court noted that Lemons’ misconduct was not as serious as the misconduct in the cases cited by the board. Lemons had not been influenced by personal relationships or self-interest.

The Disposition reads:

“Richard Alan Lemons is hereby publicly reprimanded for his misconduct in this case. Costs are taxed to Lemons.”

Justice Maureen O’Connor concurred and opined that unfortunately, Lemons’ disciplinary record will not illuminate that Lemons was not acting in self-interest but in the interest of the defendant’s children who were living in an unsafe and unsanitary environment and that Lemons was motivated by the best of intentions. She further stated that it was undeniable that Lemons went beyond what the Code of Judicial Conduct permits and must be sanctioned. But he is also to be commended for securing the safety of the children.

As of today, Alan Lemons is the judge of Scioto County, Court of Common Pleas, Probate & Juvenile Division in Portsmouth, Ohio. He had been licensed in Ohio with license #0030054. His info can be found on Ballotpedia.

A copy of the original filing can be found here.