Divorce trials rely on the impartiality of judges. If these judges cannot approach divorce cases in an unbiased manner, spouses suffer very real consequences. Of course, even the most professional judges are only human at the end of the day. Completely eliminating bias from our minds is impossible. The best we can do is be aware of our biases, keep them in mind, and attempt to react accordingly. But what happens when judges don’t even try to be impartial? How can spouses approach this situation and strive for justice?

Ohio Judge Accused of Serious Conflict of Interest

On June 6, 2023, it was reported that an Ohio judge had been barred from a case as a conflict of interest hearing looms. The issue is her apparent relationship with a contractor – a contractor who seems to get a suspicious amount of work in her courtroom. Apparently, this individual has earned upwards of $450,000 for acting as a “receiver.” In complex divorce cases, receivers are appointed by judges to handle marital property. This might include cash, equipment, and even entire businesses. Receivers can manage the businesses and other assets while the divorce proceeds, and they may be paid handsomely for their efforts. 

This particular Ohio judge’s choice of receiver was called into question after a businessman’s attorney filed an affidavit of qualification, claiming that the judge no longer rules with bias in cases involving the aforementioned receiver. The businessman then hired a private detective who tailed the judge, discovering a seemingly romantic relationship between her and the receiver. Serious conflict of interest concerns were immediately raised. In his defense, the receiver claimed that he kissed the judge because he was Italian, and this is simply the way Italian people greet and say goodbye to each other. In six out of eight divorce cases, this businessman or his daughter was appointed to be the receiver. 

Regardless of whether or not the relationship is platonic or romantic, it still raises concerns about conflicts of interest. If the family court is seen as biased or even corrupt, it destroys faith in this important institution. In addition, the Ohio Supreme Court has ruled that receivership appointments should be “rotated equitably.” If only one receiver has the opportunity to carry out this lucrative work, then this obviously goes against the Supreme Court’s ruling. 

This might not actually affect outcomes for spouses, but it does suggest that the legal system itself is corrupt or unreliable. If judges are willing to cut corners or hand out favors to their friends, then can they really be relied upon to make fair, impartial judgments during divorce trials?

But what do receivers actually do? Generally, these individuals are expected to have strong negotiation skills and a thorough understanding of business practices. According to court records, the aforementioned receiver charged upwards of $300 per hour for things like reading emails, speaking with lawyers, and at one point, negotiating the sale of a yacht.