Pinkey Susan Carr: Ohio judge fired for acting like ‘game show host’ and wearing spandex shorts in court
CLEVELAND, OHIO: A judge in Ohio was dismissed from the bench on Tuesday, October 18 for misconduct including frequently lying, issuing false arrest warrants, and appearing in court in spandex shorts, tank tops, and sneakers. Judge Pinkey Susan Carr, 57, was immediately suspended by the Ohio Supreme Court after she agreed to undergo mental and physical health evaluations. More than 100 allegations of misconduct were made against her, reports Daily Mail.
The members of the court said Carr's "unprecedented" actions showed a serious "abuse" of power in the final 5-2 ruling. Carr was given the second-severest punishment an attorney or judge can receive for violating ethics. The judge's attorney, Nicholas Froning, made the difficult-to-buy claim that the judge's poor behavior as a public official was caused by "mistreated" or "untreated" conditions like "sleep apnea, menopause, and a generalized mood disorder."
Carr's misconduct was first exposed as she carried on conducting court proceedings after the global COVID-19 pandemic forced the courthouse to close. She then issued arrest warrants for defendants who failed to appear in court despite being informed that they were not required to do so due to the coronavirus. She repeatedly set bails of $5,000 and $10,000 for defendants who were not present in court, then lied and said the warrants were "absolutely untrue."
Carr is accused of a number of outrageous behaviors that amount to running her courtroom "in a manner befitting a game show host rather than a judge of the Cleveland Municipal Court" in the damning 58-page complaint against her. In her courtroom, she frequently insulted defendants and defense counsel. The judge called one lawyer who questioned continuing to hold court during the pandemic a "little idiot." The filing reads, "She conducted court from a bench covered by an array of dolls, cups, and junk novelty items."
She publicly discussed the Mississippi strip club-themed Starz television series P-Valley. "You know what my P-Valley, my name gonna be Passion. I got to go to that class though so I can learn how to climb that pole," Carr said and referred to her bailiff as "Miss Pudding from P-Valley."
Carr had never been married but had been engaged twice, according to a local Cleveland publication, in 2013. She devotes a lot of time to volunteering at neighborhood Cleveland soup kitchens and with kid literacy programs. She is also an active member of her church community. Carr has previously referred to herself as a Cleveland native. She attended college and law school in the region.
Carr frequently waived fines and dismissed court reprimands for defendants for arbitrary reasons, such as the timing of their birthday. She stated in court documents that she had waived a fine on several occasions because "It was the defendant's birthday that month," or "The defendant's birthday was nine days before Valentine's Day." In one instance she said, "I'm going to suspend your fine and costs because you know Eric. And his birthday is May the 26th, the same day as my best friend's birthday."
In the absence of a prosecutor, she also overstepped the bounds of her judicial authority. According to the filing, Carr said, "The prosecutor's not here. Let's see how much we can get away with."
She once issued a 15-day jail sentence for someone who made a sarcastic remark in her courtroom while rolling their eyes. In addition, she undoubtedly violated the expectations of her position with her work attire. The complaint states that "She has at various times appeared on the bench wearing workout attire consisting of a tank top and long shorts; or a T-shirt and above-the-knee spandex shorts and sneakers." She also had a habit of wearing ostentatious necklaces and other jewelry to court, which complemented the countless flowers, bottles, and other trinkets she kept on her bench.
Members of the Ohio Supreme Court appeared hesitant to accept her attorney's claim that Carr's deteriorating professional behavior was a result of her having a number of mood-stabilizing illnesses. Carr's attorney said, "When it comes to sleep apnea, she was unable to get the sleep necessary. When it comes to menopause, she was dealing with issues wherein she wasn't able to function to 100%' said Carr's attorney." Ohio Justice Patrick Fischer questioned, "How does sleep apnea or menopause contribute to lying?"
The board recommended Carr be suspended for two years by the board. Her next judicial election cycle is in 2023, so she would be unable to serve as a judge for a period of more than two years.