Tucson - Pima County Justice of the Peace Paula Aboud makes $103,000 a year to make rulings on civil and criminal charges. Now, Aboud is defending herself against judicial ethics charges.
As we first reported last week, the 67 year-old Tucson native took the answer key during a test for new judges in January, after her supervisor had left the classroom. But he saw her do it. According to Aboud's written response to the charges, she admitted taking the answer sheet briefly, but called it a "prank."
"It's about the most stupid defense I can think of," says Charles Ares, a former dean of the U of A law school, an attorney and former ethics professor. Ares thinks Aboud's credibility has been so severely compromised, that she should lose her job.
"Yeah, I don't think a person who does this should occupy that position," Ares told the News 4 Tucson Investigators.
If Aboud is found guilty, removal from the bench is one of four possible punishments following a hearing on the charges, which were brought by the Arizona Commission on Judicial Conduct, an independent state agency. Aboud could also be publicly reprimanded, formally sanctioned by censure, or
George Reimer is the executive director of the commission on judicial conduct. He said, "The good news for the public is that we have a very comprehensive process to investigate and resolve complaints against judges."
In his first interview on Aboud's case, Reimer told the News 4 Tucson Investigators that the full 11-member commission considered the charges before filing them. Reimer said, "The filing of the charge speaks for itself, that the commission thought this was serious enough that a hearing should be held to determine exactly what happened, and whether any ethics rules were violated."
We went to Judge Aboud's home hoping for some answers. No one answered the door and she and her attorney did not return our calls. Her now private profile is in contrast to her very public career: before she became a J.P. in January, Aboud spent seven years as a Democratic State Senator and briefly campaigned to succeed former Rep. Gabby Giffords. In a campaign ad in 2012, Aboud said, "I intend to further honor her dedication by serving the people of southern Arizona with the same intelligent, committed and common sense leadership."
The former law school dean, Charles Ares said, "My inclination, immediate inclination, would be to say that she ought not to be a judge."
George Reimer of the Commission on Judicial Conduct says the hearing on the charges against Aboud will probably be held in August. The hearing officer will be Arizona Court of Appeals Judge Lawrence Winthrop. Soon after the hearing, the commission will announce what discipline, if any, will be imposed on Judge Aboud.
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