Judicial conduct board seeks suspension of Shrewsbury district judge
A state disciplinary court could suspend Shrewsbury-area District Judge Jeffrey Scott Joy on an interim basis and, if it does, would also decide whether his pay should be suspended as well.
The Judicial Conduct Board of Pennsylvania has asked the state's court of judicial discipline to suspend Joy, either with or without pay, according to Robert Graci, chief counsel for the judicial conduct board.
The board filed its petition Thursday afternoon with the court of judicial discipline, he said.
"The matter is now with the court," Graci said. "It will be up to the court as to when to act upon it. ... Typically they would give the magisterial district judge the opportunity to respond to the petition."
The court of judicial discipline is basically a trial court for disciplinary matters involving Pennsylvania judges, according to Graci.
Last week, Joy was charged with the misdemeanors of official oppression and indecent assault for allegedly groping a woman whose boyfriend had appeared before Joy in court.
On Wednesday, state police filed a new set of unrelated charges against Joy for allegedly offering to vacate a different woman's court fines if she modeled lingerie for him. That set of charges includes two counts of bribery in official and political matters, which are third-degree felonies.
Felonies key: It was the filing of felony charges that prompted the judicial conduct board to file a petition seeking Joy's interim suspension, according to Graci.
The state constitution allows the court to suspend judges who have been charged with felonies, he said.
"With the filing of the felony charges (Wednesday), they do have the authority now," Graci said.
He said there's no direct appeal from such an order.
An interim judicial suspension typically remains in effect until there's a resolution of whatever prompted the petition in the first place, Graci said. In this case, it would mean the resolution of Joy's felony charges.
Such a resolution would prompt a final suspension decision by the court, he said.
Not discipline: The interim suspension process is different than a disciplinary proceeding, which would be prompted by a disciplinary complaint to the court of judicial conduct by the judicial conduct board, Graci said.
"Nothing has been filed against Judge Joy as far as a disciplinary complaint," he said, adding that he can only comment on what is in the public record.
"Matters filed with the board and information gathered by the board are not public information and will not be disclosed," he said.
Graci said he could neither confirm nor deny whether the board is considering filing a disciplinary complaint against Joy.
"If we file a board complaint, that is a matter of public record," he said.
The background: Joy, 50, of Fourth Street in New Freedom, remains free on $50,000 unsecured bail, meaning he did not have to post any money to be released but could forfeit the entire amount if he fails to attend court proceedings.
Joy's defense attorney, Chris Ferro, has said the allegations are false and without merit.
York County President Common Pleas Judge Stephen P. Linebaugh last week ordered Joy removed from all court duties until further notice.
Linebaugh's order also recused all York County judges from presiding over Joy's cases, meaning out-of-county judges must be brought in to hear them.
In April, Linebaugh suspended Joy from hearing criminal cases. That's about the same time state police began investigating Joy.
Senior District Judge John Zepp of Adams County is now hearing cases in Joy's district.
The district covers the boroughs of Jacobus, Loganville, Glen Rock, Shrewsbury, New Freedom and Railroad, and Springfield and Shrewsbury townships.
The allegations: In the first case, Joy is accused of going to the home of a woman whose boyfriend appeared in Joy's courtroom, then touching and licking the woman's breast and groping her buttocks, according to charging documents.
In the second case, he is accused of going to the home of a defendant in his court and offering to vacate her court fines on a summary harassment case if she modeled lingerie for him, documents state. At the time, the woman was working as an exotic dancer.
Preliminary hearings in both cases are set for Sept. 18, according to court records.
— Reach Liz Evans Scolforo at email@example.com.