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Cops and Courts

Ohio Supreme Court denies appeal of former judge James Burge

  • Kareem-Tucker-sentenced-again-jpg

    Attorney James Burge argues in court in 2016.

    BRUCE BISHOP / CHRONICLE FILE

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The Ohio Supreme Court will not consider the appeal of former Lorain County Common Pleas Judge James Burge on his conviction of misdemeanor falsification and tampering with records charges.

Burge filed the appeal with the Supreme Court last year and has long maintained that he did nothing illegal in the case, which was centered on financial disclosure forms that judges are required to fill out each year.

A jury disagreed, as did the 9th District Court of Appeals, which upheld Burge’s conviction in 2017. The appeals court did, however, order Visiting Judge Dale Crawford to hold a new sentencing hearing in the case to clear up issues with how Burge’s sentence was structured.

Burge was ordered to pay $3,000 in fines in the case. He resigned shortly after being convicted in 2015.

Michael Stepanik, Burge’s lawyer, has said that although Burge wasn’t required to resign because the charges ultimately were determined to be misdemeanors, his client felt he had no choice because he didn’t want to return to the bench as a convicted criminal.

Burge’s case was listed under “appeals not accepted for review” in a court document from the Ohio Supreme Court dated Wednesday.

Burge did not return calls requesting comment on the Supreme Court’s decision.

The charges against Burge stemmed from his failure to disclose his interest in Whiteacre North. The company at the time owned 600 Broadway, a Lorain office building where Burge’s legal offices were before he became a judge in 2007. Several other lawyers also had offices in the building while Burge was a judge.

Burge and his business partners made a deal to sell the building to another attorney, but the deal fell apart in early 2011 and Burge sold his interest in the company to his wife in June of that year for $1.

Prosecutors also tried to appeal Burge’s conviction, arguing that he should have been convicted of felony versions of the tampering with records charges. Because of an error in how Crawford prepared the jury verdict forms in the case, the charges were reduced to misdemeanors.

The appeals court declined to address that issue in its decision earlier this year.

Contact Scott Mahoney at 329-7146 or smahoney@chroniclet.com. Follow him on Twitter @SMahoneyCT.



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