A Pima County justice of the peace has been censured by the Arizona Supreme Court for what some say was an attempt to cheat on a test for new judges and others say was a practical joke gone awry.
During January’s orientation for new limited jurisdiction judges, recently elected Democrat Paula Aboud swiped an assessment and answer key from her mentor, Phoenix Municipal Court Judge James Sampanes, who witnessed the incident. Aboud claims her actions were a prank, according to a response to the charges filed in late April. Aboud did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Arizona Court of Appeals Judge Lawrence Winthrop heard the case in mid-September. He ruled that Aboud’s actions violated three rules of the code of judicial conduct, one of which requires judges to “be patient, dignified, and courteous to litigants, jurors, witnesses, lawyers, court staff, court officials, and others with whom the judge deals in an official capacity,” according to a release Tuesday from the state commission on judicial conduct.
“While this misconduct may have only occurred once, it is too offensive to ignore or to resolve informally,” Winthrop’s ruling reads.
The commission adopted Winthrop’s findings and recommendation, which includes ordering Aboud to take additional ethics training and cover the costs of the proceedings. The Arizona Supreme Court also adopted them, according to a Dec. 4 ruling. The ruling does not affect her judgeship, according to a commission official.