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Cops and Courts

Supreme Court seeks compliance before Burge law license reinstatement


The Ohio Supreme Court has told former Lorain County Common Pleas Judge James Burge that it won’t consider his request to have his law license reinstated until he complies with the terms of the court order that suspended his license.

The court automatically suspended Burge’s law license in April after a jury found him guilty of three felony counts of tampering with records and three misdemeanor charges of falsification.

The felonies were later reduced to misdemeanors because the jury verdict forms were improperly prepared by Visiting Judge Dale Crawford. According to Ohio law, verdict forms must contain the level of the offense or the jury is presumed to have found the defendant guilty of the least form of the offense, which in the case of tampering with records is a misdemeanor.

After Crawford reduced the felonies to misdemeanors, Burge asked for his law license back.

In a letter sent to Burge this week, the Ohio Supreme Court noted that the former judge failed to file an affidavit stating he was complying with the suspension.

It also said that Burge hasn’t completed required continuing legal education classes that he was supposed to take while he was suspended.

Burge, who is appealing his conviction, declined to comment Wednesday because he hasn’t received the letter.

The case against Burge was focused on his involvement with Whiteacre North, which owns 600 Broadway, a Lorain office building where several attorneys who appeared before him had offices.

Burge was convicted of failing to list his connections to the company, which his wife partially owns, on annual financial disclosure forms.

Crawford ordered Burge to pay a $3,000 fine, but so far the former judge hasn’t done so.

Defense attorney Michael Stepanik said because Burge has appealed the case, he isn’t required to pay the fines unless the conviction is upheld.

Visiting Judge Thomas Pokorny has been handling Burge’s docket since Burge was suspended after he was indicted in September. Burge, a Democrat, resigned from the bench shortly after jurors returned their verdict and Gov. John Kasich, a Republican, is expected to name a replacement this summer.

Lorain County Republicans submitted the names of three potential candidates to Kasich for him to consider.

Whoever the governor names to the seat will have to run for election next year to retain the seat, and the seat is up again in 2018.

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