(CN) – The Arizona Supreme Court ruled that former Tucson Municipal Court Judge Theodore Abrams is banned from serving as a judge in Arizona after he sexually harassed a lawyer and retaliated against her from the bench after she turned him down.
Abrams is also censured for violating the Code of Judicial Conduct and suspended from practicing law for two years.
A Tucson magistrate since 2002 and 21-year member of the bar, Abrams began a sexual relationship with “Attorney A” in June 2008. The unnamed woman often appeared in cases before Abrams, “who neither disqualified himself nor disclosed the relationship to the parties or other counsel.”
This woman introduced Abrams to “Attorney B,” who was assigned to cover cases in his courtroom. Abrams attempted to pursue a sexual relationship with this second woman – a feat he began by initially making “lewd comments and ‘slurping noises,'” according to the Arizona Supreme Court. Abrams once groped this woman under a table, and he left her 28 voicemail messages and 85 text messages between November 2009 and October 2010. Many of his messages including sexual innuendo and content, and at least three of the voicemails referenced cases in which she had appeared before him.
In December 2009, Abrams left Attorney B a voicemail message “that even he characterized as ‘obscene,’ in which he described a sexual act he wanted to perform on her.” When she came to Abrams’ chambers the next day, he asked to take her to a friend’s condo for sex and inappropriately touched her.
In October 2010, Abrams became upset when Attorney B appeared before him in court. He accused her of “wasting judicial resources, violating her duty of candor, and committing a fraud on the court.” Later, Abrams criticized Attorney B in front of court staff and the prosecutor. On another day, he said “that he would require her to confirm jurisdiction in future cases, even though the state bears the burden of establishing jurisdiction.”
Abrams and the Commission on Judicial Conduct “entered into a stipulated resolution in which he ‘acknowledge[d] that his conduct warrants removal from the bench’ and agreed to the imposition of a censure and to resign his judicial position and never again seek or hold judicial office.”
Abrams “injured the legal system by exploiting his judicial position in pursuit of sexual gratification,” despite the “obvious conflict and impropriety and without disclosing the conflict to opposing attorneys and their clients,” Justice John Pelander wrote for a five-member panel.