Thursday, August 15, 2002

Supreme court lifts judge's suspension

By The Associated Press

        CADIZ, Ohio - The Ohio Supreme Court's suspension of Harrison County's only common pleas judge has been lifted, and the judge is back on the bench.

        Judge Steven Ray Karto was in court starting Monday, three days after the Supreme Court lifted a six-month, unpaid suspension of his legal and judicial duties, saying Judge Karto “substantially complied” with its orders not to practice law in Ohio.

        The court ruled 4-3 in January that Judge Karto violated five provisions of the state's code for judicial conduct, including testifying as a witness in a contempt of court case over which he presided.

        Judge Karto handles all probate, juvenile, family and common pleas cases, which includes criminal cases.

        He applied for reinstatement after his suspension ended July 17 and is running as an independent in the November election in the eastern Ohio county. He'll face County Court Judge Michael Nunner, a Democrat.

        “I am pleased to be reinstated to office,” Judge Karto said Tuesday in a statement. “I appreciate the kind words and support of the good people of Harrison County.”

        Judge Karto has said his Supreme Court hearing was unfair because his key witness, an expert on contempt law, was prevented from testifying on his behalf.

        “I was effectively denied my day in court,” he said.


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