Judicial Disciplinary Tribunal cleared Associate Justice John Rechucher of four out of five charges of violations of the Code of Judicial Conduct in its Decision and Order issued yesterday.
”The Tribunal does not find that respondent violated Canons 4.4, 4.8, 10.6 and 6.1,” it stated.
However, the decision also states the Tribunal found that allegation of misconduct under Canon 4.11 is true as charged by the appointed Disciplinary Counsel Johnson Toribiong.
The order states that the Tribunal must impose disciplinary sanctions “necessary to protect the public, the legal profession and the courts.”
The Tribunal sanctioned Justice Rechucher with warning not to “appear pro se in any civil proceeding where his appearance seems to benefit or actually benefit co-parties.” Furthermore, Justice Rechucher was ordered to pay the fees and costs of investigating and prosecuting of this case.
Justice John Rechucher was charged with five violations of Judicial Code of Conduct after two articles came out in Tia Belau in April 2018 complaining about Justice Rechucher’s possible violations when he defended himself in the Ked Clan/Lineage civil case.
Chief Justice Ngirakelsong assembled a Judicial Disciplinary Tribunal and appointed a Disciplinary Counsel to investigate and report findings to the Tribunal. Attorney Johnson Toribiong was appointed as the Disciplinary Counsel.
Tribunal directed the Disciplinary Counsel, after reviewing the Findings and Recommendations Report, to file a formal which was filed on July 3.
The five charges of violations revolved around the Civil Case Ked Clan/Lineage. Justice Rechucher was one of the four defendants on this case and served also as the attorney for the defendants. After he was appointed to the bench, he withdrew as the Defendants Counsel. After this, each defendant proceeded to defend his/herself. Justice Rechucher as one of the defendants appeared in court as defendant and proceeded to defend himself.
The charges claim that one, Canon 4.4, prohibits the judge from participating in the determination of a case in which any member of the judge family represents a party or associated with litigation.
Tribunal did not find Rechucher in violation of 4.4 because it believes that code refers to the judge’s role as the arbiter, a decision maker and not as a defendant.
Under the second charge of violation of Canon 4.8, Tribunal also declared no violation. 4.8 states that the judge shall not use the colors of his judicial office to advance private interests. Tribunal states that this would apply if the judge was to use his official position to gain advantage but there is no evidence to show that Rechucher used his office to gain advantage in the judgment.
Tribunal also declared no violation of Canon 4.10.6 charge. It also found no violation of Canon 6.1. Tribunal says that the Disciplinary Counsel had not provided clear and convincing evidence to explain how 6.1 was violated.
Tribunal is made up of Chief Justice Arthur Ngirakelsong, Associate Justice Katherine Maraman and Associate Justice Dennis Yamada. This decision on the matter is final. (L.N. Reklai)
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