Getting help means a two-year suspension for Judge Cox can be cut in half.
By BOB JACKSON
VINDICATOR COURTHOUSE REPORTER
YOUNGSTOWN -- A former local judge faces a two-year suspension of his law license for taking money from lawyers.
Twelve months of the suspension could be stayed if Edward A. Cox, formerly of the 7th District Court of Appeals based in Youngstown, undergoes counseling for a gambling addiction, according to documents from the Ohio Supreme Court's disciplinary counsel.
The suspension and counseling requirement are part of a settlement agreement reached between Cox and the Ohio Board of Commissioners on Grievances and Discipline, which considers misconduct by attorneys and judges. The Supreme Court justices must give final approval.
A hearing on the matter will be Nov. 30 in Columbus.
Cox said he has agreed to the counseling and wants to put the matter behind him.
"I knew it would take some time, but hopefully it will be over soon," he said.
Complaint filed: Cox, an appellate judge from 1982-2000, was the subject of a four-count complaint filed nearly a year ago by the state's disciplinary counsel, Jonathan E. Coughlan.
The complaint alleges various instances of misconduct, mostly involving Cox accepting money from lawyers and then presiding over cases in which they were involved.
As part of the settlement agreement, one count was dismissed from the complaint. It dealt with Cox allegedly persuading former local attorney Richard Goldberg to buy $25,000 worth of stock in Energy Max of Northeast Ohio, a company owned by Cox's brother.
Goldberg, serving time in a federal prison for bilking clients out of millions of dollars due them from civil lawsuits, appeared before Cox in nearly 45 cases.
In one of the remaining counts, Cox admits borrowing $27,500 from Goldberg, to be repaid at 5 percent interest over five years. He has not, however, paid back any of the money, according to records from the board of grievances and discipline.
Gambling: Cox apparently borrowed money from Goldberg and other lawyers to cover gambling debts. A psychological evaluation report from the state says Cox began gambling in his youth, usually betting on horses. He usually won more money than he lost, the report says.
Around 1990 or 1991, his gambling habits changed and he began losing money, sometimes between $1,500 and $1,900 a day, the report says. The changes coincided with personal problems Cox was experiencing.
Only when his gambling problem, and the related borrowing of money from lawyers, became public did Cox seek professional help, the report says. He fits the criteria for pathological gambling, though since October 2000 he is considered in partial remission, the report says.