Rusu has June 21 hearing before ethics board

COLUMBUS — Judge Robert N. Rusu, of Mahoning County Probate Court, has a hearing scheduled for June 21 before the Ohio Supreme Court's Board of Professional Conduct.

The board filed a complaint in January that accused the judge of failing to recuse himself from at least 200 cases in which he previously had served as an attorney. A statement issued by Judge Rusu at the time attributed the actions to a misinterpretation of the rules that govern judicial conduct.

The board filed an amended complaint this month that adds an allegation that Rusu failed to comply with the rules of professional conduct when he sold his 49 percent share in his private law practice. It does not specify how he violated those rules. The amended complaint also alleges that Rusu did not give his clients reasonable time to obtain new attorneys.

It states that Rusu sent 27 "active" clients letters informing them that he was taking the bench a week after he took the bunch and that he failed to notify the clients of their rights to hire new counsel.

Rusu's attorneys filed a response this week that denies allegations that he did not follow the proper rules when he sold his stake in his law practice and that he did not take the proper steps to protect his clients interest.

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

Voters elected Judge Rusu later in 2014.

A three-judge panel will hear the case on June 21. A ruling will follow at some point in the future.

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