Monday, July 22, 2019 Elyria 68°

Cops and Courts

Late paperwork leads court to throw out Burge's appeal

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    James Burge



ELYRIA — An appeals court has thrown out former Judge James Burge’s appeal of his criminal convictions because of late paperwork.

The decision by the 9th District Court of Appeals said that Burge filed the paperwork Feb. 12, which was 31 days after the paperwork finalizing the case against him was filed in Lorain County Common Pleas Court. Appeals must be filed within 30 days under state rules.

Burge resigned from the Lorain County Common Pleas Court bench in April 2015, just days after a jury convicted him of three felony counts of tampering with records and three misdemeanor counts of falsification. The felonies were later reduced to misdemeanors by Visiting Judge Dale Crawford because of an error in how he prepared the verdict forms signed by the jury.

Burge was ordered to pay $3,000 in fines, which, according to court records, haven’t been paid.

Burge did not return calls for comment, and his attorney, Michael Stepanik, declined comment Tuesday, but had previously said they intended to file paperwork with the appeals court asking for permission to continue with the appeal despite the lateness of the filing. No such paperwork was filed, according to the docket for the appeals case.

Meanwhile, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine’s office, which prosecuted Burge, had filed its own appeal in the case, challenging Crawford’s decision to reduce the felony charges against Burge to misdemeanors.

Although the order dismissing Burge’s appeal doesn’t specifically address DeWine’s appeal, court officials said that case is expected to be dismissed next week.

The criminal charges were related to Burge’s connection to Whiteacre North, the company that owned a building at 600 Broadway, Lorain, where his law firm had been located before he assumed the bench in 2007. He failed to note his ties to the company in financial disclosure forms required of judicial candidates, although he has maintained that he did nothing illegal.

Burge and his business partners had tried to sell the company to another lawyer, but that deal fell apart, and Burge ended up selling his stake in Whiteacre to his wife for $1 in 2011.

Records on county Auditor Craig Snodgrass’ website note that the building was sold for $60,000 in February to Cameron Properties, a holding company that lists Ryan Horn as its agent.

Burge unsuccessfully ran against county Common Pleas Judge Christopher Rothgery in the Democratic primary last week. No Republican or independent candidates filed to run against Rothgery in the fall.

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