Ucreview – A complaint filed by the Ohio State Bar Association about two Facebook posts made by a Hamilton County judge on an open case could result in disciplinary action.
According to records from the county court, Judge Ralph “Ted” Winkler opted to recuse himself from a guardianship case back in August.
The deadline for his response to the complaint is November 13th.
We have reached out to Judge Winkler for comment and will update this story as soon as we receive a response.
Multiple portions of state judicial conduct rules were allegedly violated by him.
In October 2022, the judge openly admitted to making two Facebook posts regarding a guardianship case that he was presiding over. The case involved allegations of elder abuse against a woman, which were later deemed to be baseless. The complaint is directly linked to these Facebook posts.
According to the complaint, he responded to the comments made by the woman’s son.
According to the statement, the woman has been relocated to an assisted living facility as she is suffering from dementia.
According to the complaint, the judge expressed in a post, “I am grateful that a kind neighbor contacted Senior Services and we were able to place your mother in a secure, hygienic, and healthy facility. If it wasn’t for this Good Samaritan, who knows what would have occurred with regards to elder abuse. The pictures of the residence that were presented as evidence speak for themselves. As they are a part of your mother’s case file, anyone in the public can view them.”
According to an online copy of the complaint, he also addressed her son, stating that he lost the case because he was wrong and failed to take adequate care of his mother. Additionally, he mentioned that the son often smelled of alcohol when he appeared in court.
According to the complaint, a court official made a statement to a reporter claiming that the woman was removed from her home due to it being a squalid and unsafe living environment, as well as her son’s inadequate care. However, the first allegation is inaccurate and misleading.
According to the bar complaint, the family had previously filed complaints with both the judge and online. Additionally, the Hamilton County Prosecutor’s Office had sent a letter to the woman’s son in 2019 requesting that he refrain from sending any further threatening or harassing messages.
According to the complaint, the judge came to the realization that he shouldn’t have posted the comments and deleted them within a few hours. He also handed over control of the Facebook page to another member of the staff.
The father took action by deleting or hiding his son’s comments.
According to his biography on the court’s website, Winkler has served as a judge for over two decades, beginning in 1999. He was elected to probate court in November 2014 and re-elected in 2020.
State and federal law mandate that judges, just like attorneys, must adhere to certain ethical standards.
In Ohio, it is the Supreme Court that has the ultimate authority to decide whether or not a judge has violated the state’s codes of ethics and professionalism.
In case the Ohio Supreme Court concludes that the judge has breached any of the professional or ethical regulations, the Court will take appropriate disciplinary measures. The disciplinary actions can vary from a public reprimand, or a restriction on the judge’s responsibilities, to a complete disbarment.
During the investigation and hearing process, if there isn’t enough evidence of ethical misconduct, the complaint can be dismissed.
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