The Pennsylvania Judicial Conduct Board filed a new round of formal charges against Ambridge Magisterial District Judge Andrew M. Hladio with the Court of Judicial Discipline today, alleging the judge has been retaliating against witnesses from a previous complaint.
The new charges against Hladio come in addition to an earlier misconduct complaint filed by the Board in December 2016, which is still making its way through the court.
According to documents filed with the Court of Judicial Discipline today, Hladio wrote to the Inspector General of Pennsylvania and the Auditor General, complaining about the work performance of the female court clerks and court administrative staff who had previously filed complaints against him.
District Judge Hladio similarly began the process of filing a complaint against the Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts (AOPC) under the Americans with Disabilities Act, and signed a Charge of Discrimination with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Hladio alleged that he was being harassed by female court personnel, and alleged that court staff had made false allegations against him to the Judicial Conduct Board. The women named in Hladio’s federal complaints had appeared as witnesses before the Judicial Conduct Board during a suspension hearing for the judge.
The Board alleges that Hladio’s harassment against witnesses continued, “On July 25, 2017 and September 5, 2017, Judge Hladio sent complaints via email to Deputy District Court Administrator William Hare and President Judge Richard Mancini which contained false, intemperate, irrelevant statements about individuals who were referenced in the Board Complaint […] or were known to have cooperated with the Board’s investigation.”
Along with allegations of witness retaliation, the Board alleges that District Judge Hladio engaged in improper conduct when dealing with several constables. The complaint also alleges Hladio acted improperly toward a newly hired female Assistant District Attorney.
Among the rules of conduct alleged to have been violated by District Judge Hladio include: Retaliation, Demeanor and Communication, Public Confidence in the Judiciary — Impropriety, and Bias, Prejudice and Harassment.
District Judge Hladio is still awaiting trial on the first charges brought against him by the Judicial Conduct Board in December 2016, alleging he repeatedly made inappropriate advances towards clerks in the court system, and continued those unwanted advances even after being rebuffed by the women and reprimanded by court administrators and higher ranking judges. The Board also alleged Judge Hladio exhibited improper demeanor toward a Central Court clerk, lawyers, litigants, and police officers, and repeatedly failed to uphold and properly apply the law.
Based on the prior complaint, the Court of Judicial Discipline had issued an interim suspension of District Judge Hladio from the bench in February of this year, issued an order in May extending the suspension, but then in June issued another order allowing him to return to the bench. The court provided no public rationale for his reinstatement pending trial.
The Judicial Conduct Board is now asking the court to again issue an emergency order suspending him from the bench based on the newly filed allegations of misconduct that occurred following his previous interim suspension.
Judge Hladio could now face a public trial before the Court of Judicial Discipline if he chooses to defend against all of the allegations. If the Court then determines the allegations against him have been proven by clear and convincing evidence, a Sanctions Hearing would then be held to determine what discipline should be imposed, which could include his removal from office.