Complaint filed against probate court Judge Rusu

COLUMBUS — A complaint has been filed before the Ohio Supreme Court regarding misconduct by Mahoning County Probate Court Judge Robert N. Rusu.

The state disciplinary counsel filed the complaint, which accuses Judge Rusu of failing to recuse himself from at least 200 matters on which he had been an attorney prior to taking the bench.

In a statement, Judge Rusu said he handled more than 1,300 probate cases in more than 20 years of private practice, some of those cases remain open in his court.

Many of the cases consisted of minor matters handled by court staff involving little interaction with the judge, he said in the statement.

Judge Rusu believed the rules which govern judicial conduct only required a visiting judge when a “controversy” existed, adding there is seldom an adverse party in probate court proceedings, the statement said.

“I have come to understand that I should have disqualified myself from all matters in which I had previously been a lawyer,” Rusu wrote.

Judge Rusu will disqualify himself from all cases in which he previously served as a lawyer, admit his previous interpretation of the rule was mistaken and work with the Ohio Association of Probate Judges to highlight the issue, the statement concluded.

Gov. John Kasich appointed Judge Rusu in 2014 after former Probate Court Judge Mark Belinky, who was convicted of tampering with records for failing to record campaign contributions, resigned.

Voters elected Judge Rusu later in 2014.

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