On Monday, April 29, 2024, the Akron Beach Journal reported that the Ohio Supreme Court is still weighing a decision in the case of Stow Municipal Court Judge Kim Hoover, who had been recommended for a two-year suspension over allegations of misconduct.

It has been nearly a year since Judge Hoover appealed the recommendation by Ohio’s Board of Professional Conduct to the state’s high court. The board’s investigation found that Hoover had used coercive tactics to collect court fees from criminal defendants in a way that amounted to operating a “modern-day debtor’s prison.” Hoover’s attorney argued the judge’s motivations were about accountability and not money, and that the defendants were not singled out due to their financial status.

During Hoover’s appeal hearing last May, some justices questioned inconsistencies between an audiotape of a courtroom exchange and the official transcript of the incident. The exchange was cited as an example of Hoover racially mocking a defendant. While Hoover acknowledged the transcript was accurate, he did not admit the exchange was racist. The board maintained Hoover had exhibited bias against those of limited means on multiple occasions.

Regardless of the Supreme Court’s final ruling, Hoover’s term as Stow Municipal Court judge is set to expire at the end of 2025 due to age limits. Even if given a suspension, it may have less practical effect on Hoover, since he will have left the bench before a two-year ban is completed.

Legal experts say the justices have three options – upholding the suspension with possible shortening, confirming the full two-year recommendation, or overturning the board’s decision. A ruling could restrict Hoover from serving as an assigned or visiting judge after retirement. But the Journal noted there was no timeline for a decision, as each case is unique.

The issue has lingered nearly a year since Hoover’s appeal, with the court taking time to carefully review inconsistencies raised regarding the judge’s alleged conduct. A resolution may bring closure but may still have limited tangible impact, given Hoover’s impending end of current term.



Source: Akron Beach Journal