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Federal judge in Akron no longer ordered to undergo psychiatric examination

September 21, 2018

Federal judge in Akron no longer ordered to undergo psychiatric examination

CLEVELAND, Ohio — A disciplinary panel for the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals is no longer pushing a federal judge in Akron to undergo a mental health examination in a disciplinary case, and appeals court attorneys declared the judge’s lawsuit is moot.

U.S. District Judge John Adams challenged the constitutionality of a February 2016 examination order in a lawsuit. Justice Department lawyers who represent the Cincinnati-based appeals court that Adams is suing asked Washington, D.C.-based federal Judge Amy Berman Jackson on Thursday to dismiss the lawsuit.

Adams’s attorneys said Friday that they will continue to fight the lawsuit.

Adams was appointed to the federal bench in 2003 by President George W. Bush and has a long-standing reputation of being prickly. Appeals court attorneys included in their request a June 27 order from the 6th Circuit Judicial Council that says Adams no longer needs to undergo a psychiatric examination.

The order says the Judicial Council met March 20 and discussed statements made by other federal judges in the Northern District of Ohio “that Judge Adams’s (sic) behavior had improved and stabilized.

“The judges reported that there had been no recurrence of the sort of behavior that occasioned the misconduct finding,” the order continues. “Moreover, there had been no recent reports of courtroom misbehavior.”

Now that Adams doesn’t have to undergo the examination, Jackson should dismiss his lawsuit, 6th Circuit lawyers wrote.

Adams’ disciplinary case dates back several years. The 6th Circuit Judicial Council members said in 2016 that Adams committed misconduct when he issued a 2013 order to a federal magistrate judge who missed a deadline to submit a report and recommendation in a Social Security benefits case. They also said his refusal to undergo the examination constituted misconduct.

The 6th Circuit publicly reprimanded the judge and said he should not preside over any cases for two years. Adams appealed, and the U.S. Judicial Conference’s conduct and disability committee largely agreed. In its 2017 ruling, however, the committee said the evidence didn’t support as steep an action as taking away Adams’ cases.

Both reports referenced other examples of problematic behavior, from being unwilling to engage with his colleagues on the bench, being hostile toward magistrate judges or, in one instance, blocking in an intern’s car when the intern accidentally parked in Adams’ space.

The Judicial Council’s June 27 order says that Adams again refused to undergo the examination in 2017 and instead filed the lawsuit. As a result, an investigative committee recommended that Adams receive no new cases for six months.

The Judicial Council backed off after hearing from other judges in northern Ohio. The order says the council will review the matter in one year and dismiss the complaint if Adams doesn’t commit any more misconduct.

Adams, reached on Friday, declined comment and referred a reporter to Judicial Watch, a conservative watchdog group representing him in the lawsuit.

His attorneys sent a statement from Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton that said the organization “hopes this years-long investigation is finally coming to a close and that Judge Adams can continue his public service without the significant distraction of an unwarranted ethics investigation and exam.”

However, Fitton made clear the lawsuit is far from over and that Adams will continue to pursue it to “vindicate his rights, restore his good name, and prevent other similarly-situated judges from being subjected to similar demands in the future.”

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