Judicial Conduct Board files charges against Joy

Sean Philip Cotter
  • Former district judge Jeff Joy faces disciplinary charges from the state Judicial Review Board.
  • In April, Joy pleaded to charges that he used his position to make inappropriate advances to women.
  • Joy had to resign his position in April when he pleaded no contest to the charges.

The state Judicial Conduct Board filed charges Friday against the former York County district judge who pleaded to two instances of official oppression.

The criminal case against Jeff Joy, 51, has already been resolved, but he now will face the board's civil proceedings, which seek to "restore the integrity of the judicial process," according to Robert Graci, the board's chief counsel.

York County District Judge Jeff Joy

"It's to restore and uphold the public trust" in the court system and rule of law, he said.

Beyond removing or suspending judges, which is a moot point in this case, as Joy was forced to resign as part of his plea, the board can issue a reprimand or fine, for example, Graci said.

Joy, who was accused of using his position to make inappropriate advances toward women, pleaded no contest in April to two counts of official oppression, a second-degree misdemeanor. That type of plea means Joy didn't have to admit guilt, but otherwise a no-contest plea has the same effect as a guilty plea.

Charges including indecent assault, bribery in official and political matters and harassment were dropped as part of the plea deal.

Presiding out-of-county Senior Common Pleas Judge Lawrence F. Clark Jr. sentenced Joy to two years of probation, 200 hours of community service and $2,000 in fines. He ordered Joy to pay court costs and to submit, within 24 hours "an unequivocal, non-revocable" resignation letter to state officials, including Gov. Tom Wolf.

Chris Ferro, Joy's attorney, did not return a message seeking comment Friday afternoon.

Background: Joy, of Fourth Street in New Freedom, was charged Aug. 7, 2015, with groping a woman whose boyfriend was incarcerated after appearing before Joy in district court.

State police said Joy went to the woman's Glen Rock home, where he touched and licked her breast and grabbed her buttocks.

Police: Joy made inappropriate comments to other women

On Aug. 12, state police filed additional charges against Joy. They said he offered to vacate a different woman's court fines if she modeled lingerie for him.

The woman who reported Joy groped her in her Glen Rock apartment told The York Dispatch she had spoken with Joy about her concerns that one of her child neighbors was being abused.

The woman, whose name is being withheld by The York Dispatch, said Joy agreed to look into her concerns.

"He knew that I was in a vulnerable situation ... that I wasn't from Pennsylvania and I was alone," she said at Joy's plea hearing. "He came to my apartment and abused his power ... and pretty much deceived me into thinking he was helping a (child) who was my neighbor. ... He abused my trust and he was supposed to be a person who was an honorable judge."

She said she and her boyfriend moved back to Maryland as soon as he was released from prison, and she told Judge Clark the incident had a domino effect on her life, including being fired from her job.

"Basically after he attacked me, I had to live in fear ... because I came forward," she said. "I was in such a depression."

She said she thinks people such as Joy don't stop to think about how their actions affect others.

"It creates a nightmare," she said. "I'm getting my life back together. I'm resilient, but it's been difficult."

Attorney Suzanne Smith, who represented the woman to help her through the legal process, said she believes the young woman feels vindicated.

"Her goal was (to ensure) he'd never be able to do that again," Smith said.

Four months before his suspension, Joy was barred from presiding over criminal cases by then-York County President Common Pleas Judge Stephen P. Linebaugh. That's about the same time state police began investigating Joy.

When Joy was criminally charged, Linebaugh removed Joy from all court duties until further notice. That order also recused all York County judges from presiding over Joy's cases, which is why an out-of-county senior judge was assigned.

Joy's former district covers the boroughs of Jacobus, Loganville, Glen Rock, Shrewsbury, New Freedom and Railroad, and Springfield and Shrewsbury townships. Senior District Judge Nancy Edie has been handling cases in Joy's office and continues to do so.

— Reach Sean Cotter or on Twitter at@SPCotterYD.