On August 12, 2020, the Supreme Court of Ohio publicly reprimanded Franklin County Common Pleas Court Judge Monica Hawkins after her conviction for OVI, a first-degree misdemeanor. She is the third judge to be publicly reprimanded this year for such conduct.
The incident occurred on January 31, 2019 in Pickerington, Ohio, where Judge Hawkins was arrested after a citizen called 911 reporting a suspected intoxicated driver.
Judge Hawkins denied consuming alcohol stating that she just got lost while driving home. The officer that stopped her smelled alcohol, noticed a bleeding knot on her forehead and what appeared to be vomit on her coat and on the car floor. Judge Hawkins identified herself as a judge. After failing several sobriety tests, Judge Hawkins was arrested for OVI.
Judge Hawkins refused to provide a breath sample and, after the police obtained a warrant, refused to allow a blood draw to test her alcohol level. Eventually four hospital employees held her down so that the blood could be drawn. Results of the blood test showed a blood-alcohol level of 0.199, over twice the legal limit of 0.08.
Judge Hawkins pled guilty to OVI and was sentenced to 90 days in jail, with 87 days suspended and a $375 fine. She was permitted to complete a 72-hour driver-intervention program rather than actual jail time.
In disciplinary proceedings, the Supreme Court of Ohio found that Judge Hawkins violated Jud.Cond.R. 1.1 (failure to comply with the law) and Jud.Cond.R. 1.2 (failure to act in a manner that promotes the public confidence and independence, integrity and impartiality of the jury and to avoid the impropriety and the appearance of impropriety). (2020-Ohio-4023).
Judge Doherty violated Jud.Cond.R. 1.2 and Jud.Cond.R. 1.3 (using the prestige of the office for personal gain) for a similar violation and received a public reprimand (2020-Ohio-1422). Judge Gonzalez violated Jud.Cond.R. 1.1 and Jud.Cond.R. 1.3 for similar behavior, and, likewise, received a public reprimand (2020-Ohio-3259). Judge Marshall violated Jud.Cond.R. 1.1, Jud.Cond.R. 1.2 and Prof.Cond.R. 84.(h) for similar conduct and received a public reprimand (2015-Ohio-1187).