A Hamilton County Domestic Relations Court magistrate for 14 years was terminated Thursday following an investigation of his having an "inappropriate relationship" with a woman who had a domestic violence complaint pending in the court.
Magistrate J. Stuart Newberry was fired after the investigation by the office of county Prosecutor Joe Deters. Newberry had been a magistrate since 2003 and made $76,337 a year. In Domestic Relations Court, magistrates assist judges in divorce and domestic violence cases by conducting hearings, ruling on pre-trial motions and issuing orders. They are not elected by the public, but are appointed by the courts.
Newberry, 68, could not be reached for comment Friday.
Newberry was terminated by the court's administrative judge, Jon Sieve. Sieve had put Newberry on administrative leave Dec. 19 after investigators from the prosecutor's office told him that they were beginning to look into allegations of a possible inappropriate relationship between Newberry and the 47-year-old woman who had filed a domestic violence complaint. CityBeat does not name victims of domestic violence or sexual assault.
On Newberry's notice of administrative leave, Sieve wrote that Newberry "may have had the litigant in his office, had her accompany him on smoke breaks, went to lunch with her and had her sit through other hearings on different days." Sieve also wrote of "two inadvertent contacts" between Newberry and the woman in May.
What the prosecutor's office learned to support a termination has not yet been publicly disclosed. Spokespersons for Deters' office were either off Friday or did not respond to requests for the findings of the investigation. Domestic Relations Court Administrator Lisa Gorrasi would not discuss those findings.
"Judge Sieve refers you to the prosecutor's office for any further information," she said.
In placing Newberry on leave, Sieve cited several passages of the court's employee handbook that might have been violated. One policy requires employees to conduct themselves in a "professional manner" at all times and use "mature judgment" in their personal conduct. Another forbids employees from using their position in the court for personal gain, including "having a financial, sexual, personal, exploitative or other interest, which is in conflict with the proper discharge of their duties."
CONTACT JAMES McNAIR at [email protected], 513-914-2736 or @jmacnews on Twitter