It has taken three years, but at last the Ohio Supreme Court has made it clear that former Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Judge Patricia Cleary was clearly out of bounds when she sent a pregnant woman to jail explicitly to prevent her from obtaining an abortion.
In writing for the court's 4-3 majority, Justice Deborah Cook said there was strong evidence that Cleary improperly offered Yuriko Kawaguchi a quid pro quo arrangement at sentencing: probation if she continued the pregnancy, prison time if she insisted on an abortion.
& quot;Cleary's statements at the sentencing hearing about granting probation displayed partiality toward certain conduct that Cleary thought morally appropriate,'' Cook said.
Toothless punishment: Unfortunately, the punishment meted out to Cleary -- a six-month suspension of her license to practice law -- comes far too late to have much value. Last November, Cleary was defeated in her bid for a third six-year term on the bench.
She is the coordinator for reapportionment and redistricting for the Cuyahoga County Elections Board, a position in which she does no legal work.
Cleary still thinks she did nothing wrong, telling The Plain Dealer, "I never felt I did anything legally or morally wrong."
In 1998, we wrote that the American legal system should not have to accommodate a judge who so willfully tramples on the rights of the accused. The voters of Cuyahoga County agreed. And now the Ohio Supreme Court has, too. Only Cleary has failed to get the message.