Judge facing Supreme Court action for holding hearings during coronavirus crisis

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CLEVELAND (WJW) -- The Ohio Supreme Court has ordered Cleveland Municipal Court Judge Pinkey Carr to temporarily stop hearing cases after a complaint was filed against the judge  for holding hearings during the coronavirus health scare.

Most court operations shut down several days ago to limit the number of people going into the building.

But Judge Carr still held hearings on a number of cases.

Wednesday, Carr spoke to the FOX 8 I-Team explaining why she still heard cases. The judge said she was there and had the hearings if the defendant showed up for court.

She also said she did not issue warrants for people who didn’t show up due to the coronavirus. However, the I-Team found  several warrants were issued on cases where defendants didn’t appear.

“I checked the box saying they failed to appear but did not realize  this triggered  a warrant, that was not my intention,” Carr told the I-Team. “I never meant to issue a warrant.  I don’t work in the clerk’s office and didn’t know this would happen.”

When the I-Team checked the docket Saturday on some of the cases,  it shows Judge Michelle Earley, the municipal court’s administrative judge, had the warrants recalled and set for a hearing at the end of April.

An Ohio  Supreme Court document says Judge Carr is not to hold any traffic or criminal cases and she has until Tuesday to respond.

However, the judge told us, Saturday, she has not been served with any court papers, so she isn’t ready to comment at this time.

Marcus Sidoti, a partner at the law firm Friedman and Gilbert, said he is very concerned about Judge Carr’s actions. 

“We are in a time of unprecedented crisis.  We must focus on clearing as many people as possible out of our jails and courts to ensure the safety of the public,” Sidoti said. “ Instead, Carr issued warrants for the arrests of people charged with misdemeanors, lied about it, then calls a caring, respected member of the defense bar a "little idiot" after inquiring about the court mandate excusing his clients appearance the following day. Judges cannot be permitted to substitute their personal opinions for the directives of the law, particularly when lives are at risk. “

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